The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Oct. 21, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- The trade balance for goods and services in 
      August is expected to show a deficit of $10 billion, based on the median 
      forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of The McGraw-Hill 
      Companies. The July deficit swelled to $10.3 billion from $8.3 billion in June. 
      August exports are projected to have risen to $78 billion, after dropping to 
      $77.4 billion in July. Imports are expected to have risen to $88.2 billion, 
      after jumping to $87.7 billion in July. The way the third-quarter trade gap is 
      shaping up, trade will provide a drag on third-quarter growth in real gross 
      domestic product, scheduled for release on Oct. 31.
      Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2:00 p.m. EDT -- For September, the final month of the 1997 
      fiscal year, the Treasury is expected to report a deficit of $46 billion, based 
      on the results of the MMS survey, compared to a gap of $35.3 billion in 
      September, 1996. If the projection is on the mark, the 1997 deficit will total 
      $29 billion, the lowest for any fiscal year since 1974. Moreover, the deficit 
      as a percentage of gross domestic product will fall to only 0.4%. Given 
      continued strong growth into 1998, the deficit for fiscal 1998 should at least 
      equal that performance. Since the report is the last for the fiscal year, there 
      is often a reporting delay, as the final accounts are reconciled.
      Thursday, Oct. 23, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- First-time filings for jobless benefits in 
      the week ended Oct. 18 are expected to have remained close to their recent 
      weekly average of about 310,000. The September average of claims stood at 
      308,000, the lowest for any month since 1989, suggesting that labor markets 
      continue to tighten. Recent claims numbers, which tend to foreshadow movements 
      in the unemployment rate, suggest that joblessness will fall further in coming 
      months, from 4.9% in September. The claims data will be increasingly important 
      to Wall Street in coming weeks, given the Federal Reserve chairman's focus on 
      labor markets in recent congressional testimony.

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