The Week Ahead
DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Wednesday, Mar. 25, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers likely increased by 0.7% in February, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Orders had risen 1.6% in January, but that followed a 5.3% plunge in December, caused mostly by falling demand for aircraft. The increase in new orders suggests that the backlog of unfilled orders also rose. EXISTING HOME SALES Wednesday, Mar. 25, 10 a.m. EST -- Existing homes probably sold at an annual rate of 4.44 million in February, the same high rate as in January. If so, home resales in the first quarter are running well above the sales rate of the fourth quarter, suggesting that household purchases of furniture, electronics, and textiles will increase in coming months. Unseasonably mild weather in parts of the country, coupled with low mortgage rates, buoyed home buying. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, Mar. 26, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New filings for state unemployment benefits likely stood at 320,000 in the week ended Mar. 21. Claims slipped below the 300,000 mark in the first week of March, to the lowest level since July, 1997. The jobless rate dipped to a 24-year low of 4.6% in February, and the drop in claims suggests that labor markets tightened further in March. PERSONAL INCOME Friday, Mar. 27, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Personal income likely increased another 0.5% in February, on top of the 0.6% gain posted in January. That's indicated by the strong advance in jobs and wages for the month. Consumer spending likely rose 0.5% in February. In addition, the revision to January retail sales, from a 0.1% increase to a 1% jump, suggests that the 0.4% gain in January consumer spending will also be revised higher. Real consumer spending is on track to grow at an annual rate of about 5% in the first quarter.
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