The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Dec. 19, 8:30 a.m. -- The Commerce Dept. is expected to report that 
      real GDP, as measured on a chain-weighted basis, grew at an annual rate of 3.2% 
      in the third quarter. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS 
      International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies, and it is slightly faster than 
      the 3% reported in October. Under the old 1987-dollar fixed-weight method, real 
      GDP grew at a 4.2% pace last quarter.
      Tuesday, Dec. 19, 8:30 a.m. -- Starts likely rose to an annual rate of 1.35 
      million in November from October's 1.34 million.
      Tuesday, Dec. 19 -- The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve 
      will set monetary policy for the next six weeks. The MMS consensus is that the 
      federal funds rate will remain at 5.75%, but the recent soft data mean a 
      quarter-point cut in short-term rates cannot be ruled out.
      Wednesday, Dec. 20, 8:30 a.m. -- The foreign trade deficit for goods and 
      services likely widened to $9 billion in October, from $8.3 billion in 
      September. Exports, which grew 1.6% in September, were little changed in 
      October, while imports, up 1.4%, probably rose at a faster pace in October.
      Thursday, Dec. 21, 8:30 a.m. -- Personal income likely rose by 0.5% in October 
      and 0.3% in November, while consumer spending was probably flat in October and 
      up a small 0.4% in November. Because of the GDP revisions, the October and 
      November income and spending data will be released simultaneously. In 
      September, income grew 0.4%, while outlays rose 0.2%.
      Thursday, Dec. 21 -- The Treasury Dept. is likely to announce a federal deficit 
      of about $38 billion in November, not much different from the $37.2 billion 
      deficit posted in November, 1994.
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