The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Dec. 23, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New orders taken by durable-goods 
      manufacturers likely increased by 0.5% in November, according to the median 
      forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill 
      Companies. Bookings slipped 0.1% in October, but the pace of orders stands well 
      above year-ago levels. The expected rise in new orders indicates that the 
      backlog of unfilled orders advanced for the fourth consecutive month.
      Tuesday, Dec. 23 -- Two reports on holiday shopping for the last full week 
      before Christmas will be released. The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi/Schroder 
      Wertheim retail report is released in the morning, while LJR Redbook Research 
      reports their findings in the afternoon. So far during this holiday season, 
      both surveys have shown good gains in retail spending.
      Wednesday, Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Personal income probably increased a 
      strong 0.7% in November, says the MMS survey. That follows a solid 0.5% gain in 
      October and is suggested by the surprisingly robust gains in jobs and weekly 
      pay last month. Consumer spending likely increased 0.4% in November, on top of 
      a 0.5% rise in October. Although retail sales were weak last month, the unit 
      sales of motor vehicles posted a large increase. Consumer spending looks on 
      track to rise at about a 3% annual rate in the fourth quarter, after the 5.8% 
      surge of the third.
      Wednesday, Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Initial filings for state unemployment 
      benefits likely stood at a 310,000 pace for the week ended Dec. 20, about the 
      same number of claims filed in the week of Dec. 6. After the four-week moving 
      average dipped below the 300,000 mark in August, jobless claims have been 
      trending higher in the fall. In the first week of December, the moving average 
      totaled 318,300.