The Week Ahead

      Monday, Dec. 23, 8:30 a.m. EST  -- Personal income likely increased a solid 
      0.6% in November after no change in October, according to the median forecast 
      of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. 
      The MMS survey also projects that consumer spending rose 0.3% in November on 
      top of a 0.5% gain in October. Retail sales fell 0.4% in November, but most of 
      that decline came in the dollar amount of sales at car dealers. The Commerce 
      Dept., however, uses unit sales of cars and light trucks in compiling its 
      spending figures, and unit sales rose in November. In addition, the month's 
      unusually cold weather pushed up energy use.
      Friday, Dec. 27, 8:30 a.m. EST  -- New orders taken by durable goods 
      manufacturers likely edged up 0.3% in November, the same gain posted in 
      October, says the MMS survey. An increase is suggested by a rise in the orders 
      index of the National Association of Purchasing Management as well as a big 
      jump in the production of durable goods in November.
      Friday, Dec. 27, 8:30 a.m.EST  -- The Conference Board's index of leading 
      indicators probably rose 0.1% in November, says the MMS survey. If so, that 
      would be the 10th consecutive increase. The uptrend suggests that the economic 
      expansion will continue through all of 1997.
      Friday, Dec. 27, 8:30 a.m.EST  -- Initial jobless claims for the week ended 
      Dec. 21 will probably total about 325,000, not much different from the 317,000 
      filed in early December. Because of Christmas, the Labor Dept. will report the 
      jobless-claims data one day later than normal.
      Friday, Dec. 27, 10 a.m.EST  -- Existing homes likely sold at an annual rate of 
      4 million in November, slightly better than October's 3.97 million pace.

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