The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Mar. 17, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Builders are expected to have broken ground on new single-family and multi-unit housing in February at an annual rate of 1.55 million, based on the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Starts in January totaled 1.53 million.


Tuesday, Mar. 17, 9:15 a.m. EST -- February output at factories, utilities, and mines is expected to have risen 0.2%, says the S&P MMS survey. January production was unchanged. The capacity utilization rate likely fell to 82.9% from 83%.


Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2 p.m. EST -- The Federal Reserve will release its summary of economic conditions in the 12 Fed districts. The financial markets will be focused on effects of the Asian crisis and tight labor markets. The report is prepared for use at the Mar. 31 policy meeting.


Thursday, Mar. 19, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices are expected to have risen in February by 0.1%, based on the S&P MMS survey. That would follow January's unchanged reading. Excluding energy and food, the core index is projected to have increased by 0.2%, the same as in January.


Thursday, Mar. 19, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The January trade deficit for goods and services is expected to have widened to $11.3 billion, says the median forecast from the S&P MMS survey, from December's gap of $10.8 billion. Exports are expected to have declined, while imports are projected to have increased.


Friday, Mar. 20, 2 p.m. EST -- The February federal budget is expected to have been in deficit by $39 billion, according to the S&P MMS survey. That would be less than the $44 billion deficit posted in February of last year.