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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