The Week Ahead

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING
      Monday, Jan. 5, 10 a.m. EST -- Spending on construction projects was likely 
      unchanged in November, after a small 0.1% gain in October. That's the median 
      forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill 
      Companies. Housing increased slightly, offsetting some weakness in the 
      public-works sector.
      
      FACTORY INVENTORIES
      Tuesday, Jan. 6, 10 a.m. EST -- Manufacturing stock levels probably increased 
      by 0.4% in November, the same advance posted in October. The buildup is 
      suggested by the 1% jump in factory output in November. Inventories remain lean 
      when compared to sales, and businesses are trying to bulk up their stockpiles 
      just to keep up with the current pace of demand.
      
      NEW HOME SALES
      Wednesday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m. EST -- New homes likely sold at an annual rate of 
      800,000 in November. In October, sales slipped by 1.7%, to a 797,000 pace. 
      Thanks to strong income growth, home-buying enjoyed one of its strongest years 
      in 1997.
      
      INSTALLMENT CREDIT
      Wednesday, Jan. 7, 3 p.m. EST -- Consumers probably added about $5 billion in 
      new debt in November, led by a jump in auto lending. In October, consumers took 
      on an unexpectedly large $10.7 billion in new installment credit.
      
      PRODUCER PRICE INDEX
      Thursday, Jan. 8, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Producer prices of finished goods were 
      likely unchanged in December, after falling 0.2% in November. Excluding food 
      and energy, prices probably fell 0.1%, the same drop posted in November.
      
      EMPLOYMENT
      Friday, Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 200,000 in 
      December. That follows November's surge of 404,000, which was twice the 
      expected number. The jobless rate likely remained at 4.6%.
      
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