The Week Ahead

GREENSPAN TESTIMONY
      Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m.EST -- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will 
      travel to Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Budget Committee on the 
      state of the U.S. economy. Of particular interest to Fed watchers will be any 
      mention of building price pressures.
      
      HOUSING STARTS
      Wednesday, Jan. 22, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Housing starts probably fell to an annual 
      rate of 1.45 million in December, according to the median forecast of 
      economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. 
      Starts unexpectedly surged in November, jumping 9.2% to a 1.51 million pace. 
      New building in the Midwest and South was especially strong. Despite higher 
      mortgage rates in the first half of the year, homebuilders were quite busy in 
      1996. Housing is expected to hold steady in 1997. Starts in January, however, 
      might be curtailed by the bad weather in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest.
      
      BEIGE BOOK
      Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2 p.m.EST -- The Federal Reserve's roundup of regional 
      economic activity will be released in advance of the policy meeting on Feb. 
      4-5. The financial markets will try to glean evidence of economic trends from 
      the Beige Book. In particular: whether retail sales bounced back in early 1997 
      after a modest holiday season and whether regional shortages of skilled labor 
      have begun to push up wages.
      
      FEDERAL BUDGET
      Thursday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m.EST -- The MMS median forecast expects that the U.S. 
      Treasury will report a budget surplus of $10 billion for December, a month in 
      which most quarterly income taxes are paid. The projected surplus is almost 
      twice the $5.2 billion reported in December, 1995. However, for the first 
      quarter of fiscal 1997, which began on Oct. 1, 1996, the federal deficit will 
      likely total about $68 billion. That is way above the $55.9 billion in the 
      first quarter of fiscal 1996.
      
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