The Week Ahead
FOMC MEETING Tuesday, May 21 -- Members of the Federal Reserve Board's Federal Open Market Committee will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. The federal funds rate--the overnight borrowing rate for commercial banks--should remain at 5.25%, according to the unanimous forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The Fed last cut short-term rates on Jan. 31, when it trimmed a quarter-point off the funds rate and cut the discount rate to 5%, from 5.25%. In announcing the January easing, the Fed said that a "moderating economic expansion in recent months has reduced potential inflationary pressures." FEDERAL BUDGET Tuesday, May 21, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Treasury Dept. will likely report a surplus of $65.5 billion in April, says the median MMS forecast. April is tax month for Americans, so Washington always runs a surplus, but this April's sum exceeds the $49.7 billion of a year ago. A delay in sending out tax refunds in early 1995 cut into last April's black ink. The expected surplus puts the fiscal 1996 deficit on track to total less than $150 billion, compared with $164 billion in fiscal 1995, which ended in September. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, May 23, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New filings for state jobless benefits likely stood at 345,000 in the week ended May 18. That's a bit higher than the 336,000 filed in early May. Claims had jumped to more than 400,000 in the final weeks of March because of the strike at General Motors Corp. DURABLE GOODS Friday, May 24, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers probably slipped by 0.2% in April, says the MMS report. Orders jumped 2.5% in March, but most of that increase came from demand from the military--especially for aircraft. That ordering is unlikely to be repeated anytime soon. The backlog of unfilled orders rose 1.2% in March.
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