The Week Ahead
CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Monday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m.EDT -- Spending on building projects likely rebounded by a strong 0.8% in June, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Public-works and nonresidential construction likely led the increase. Spending dropped 1.8% in May, but construction activity had risen steadily before that. LEADING INDICATORS Tuesday, Aug. 5, 10 a.m.EDT -- The Conference Board's index of leading indicators likely increased 0.1% in June. That would follow a 0.3% advance in May. A rising stock market and better orders offset a gain in unemployment claims and drop in building permits. The leading indicators give no sign of trouble for the economy going into 1998. THE BEIGE BOOK Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Federal Reserve's survey of regional economies will round up reports on business activity within its 12 districts. During his semiannual talk to Congress, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan discussed tightness in the labor markets and its inflationary consequences. Consequently, market participants will be most interested in the Beige Book's reports on labor-market conditions and rising wages. The Beige Book is prepared in advance of the Fed's next policy meeting, scheduled for Aug. 19. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Thursday, Aug. 7, 3 p.m.EDT -- The MMS report forecasts that consumers added $4.5 billion in new credit in June. That's suggested by a gain in retail sales and vehicle purchases. In May, installment debt rose by only $3 billion, down from the $7.2 billion average in the previous four months. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, was up only $0.7 billion in May. Consumer-debt growth has slowed sharply in 1997, as banks tighten lending standards and households pay down existing debts.
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