The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. EST -- The National Association of Purchasing Management's business index for November probably slipped to 47.9%, from October's 48.3%, according to the median projection of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. If correct, the forecast means that the NAPM index has been below 50% for five consecutive months, a sign that the manufacturing sector is contracting.


Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. EST -- Construction outlays probably rose 0.5% in October, on top of a 0.4% gain in September. That's suggested by the unexpected 7.3% jump in homebuilding for the month.


Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. EST -- The Conference Board's index of leading indicators likely rose 0.2% in October, after no change in either August or September. A rebound in stock prices helped to lift the index.


Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. EST -- New single-family homes probably sold at an annual rate of 840,000 in October. If so, that would be the first rise in sales since June. In September, home buying slipped 1%, to 822,000 homes purchased.


Friday, Dec. 4, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The S&P MMS median forecast expects that nonfarm payrolls grew by a solid 160,000 in November, following a 116,000 increase in October. However, manufacturing jobs probably declined by another 22,000, bringing the total number of factory workers laid off so far in 1998 to 215,000. November's unemployment rate is expected to remain at October's 4.6% reading.


Friday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. EST -- Manufacturers probably increased their inventories by a small 0.2% in October, after seeing no change in September.