The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Apr. 21 -- In a week that contains little economic news, the financial markets will focus on the weekly retail reports, especially after the Commerce Dept. said that March retail sales fell 0.1%. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi/Schroder Wertheim report, released at 9 a.m., and the LJR Redbook Report, due at 2:15 p.m., will gauge retail buying for the week ended Apr. 18. The survey results vary because each analyzes data from different store chains. For the week of Apr. 11, the last shopping days before Easter, the Mitsubishi survey showed that sales so far in April were up 1.4% from March, while the Redbook report said that sales rose 3.8%.


Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2 p.m. EDT -- The U.S. Treasury is likely to report a budget deficit of $15 billion for March, says the median survey of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Washington posted a gap of $21.3 billion last March. April, when most Americans settle their tax bills, will give the best reading of how much in the black the federal government will be in fiscal 1998 which ends in September. So far, though, the deficit is running $34 billion less than in fiscal 1997. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected a surplus of $18 billion this year, and Congress and the White House are now wrestling with how to spend any windfall. On Apr. 10, however, the Federal Reserve warned that forecasting the federal surplus is difficult because estimating future tax receipts is a complex task.


Thursday, Apr. 23, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- New claims for state unemployment benefits probably jumped to 325,000 in the week ended Apr. 18. Claims were running at a very low four-week moving average of 310,000 in early April. Although state offices did not close in the week of Apr. 11, unemployed workers may have held off applying for benefits until after the Easter and Passover holidays.

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