The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, May 20 -- The Federal Reserve Board's Federal Open Market Committee 
      will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. According to a survey 
      by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies, 60% of economists 
      polled expect a quarter-point hike in the federal funds rate, currently at 
      5.5%. The MMS report said that many analysts believe that "Tight labor market 
      conditions and the underlying momentum of the economy...will keep the Fed on 
      its preemptive course." The Fed lifted the funds rate by a quarter-point on 
      Mar. 25. Since then, the data show that the unemployment rate in April fell to 
      4.9%, a 23-year low.
      Wednesday, May 21, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The foreign trade deficit of goods and 
      services was probably little changed in March, after the gap narrowed sharply 
      in February to $10.4 billion from January's record $12.3 billion. Both exports 
      and imports are expected to have increased slightly in March. In February, 
      exports jumped 4%, and imports rose 1.1%, the fourth consecutive gain. Foreign 
      trade was a big drag on economic growth in the first quarter, shaving almost 
      two percentage points off the increase in real gross domestic product. Strong 
      domestic demand in the U.S. continues to attract a record amount of imports, 
      while economies elsewhere are not expanding fast enough to accelerate U.S. 
      export growth.
      Wednesday, May 21, 2 p.m.EDT -- The MMS survey expects the Treasury Dept. to 
      report a huge surplus of $95 billion for April, far surpassing last year's 
      windfall of $72.4 billion, which currently is the record surplus for April. 
      Rising personal income tax receipts, inflated by capital gains from the stock 
      market, are responsible for the windfall. The April surplus would mean that 
      Washington is well on its way to posting its first fiscal deficit below $100 
      billion since 1981. The deficit in fiscal 1996, which ended in September, 
      totaled $107 billion.