The Week Ahead

      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."
      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.
      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.
      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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