The Week Ahead


Monday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. EST -- The Treasury Dept. is expected to report a monthly deficit of $17.5 billion for November, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Washington's expected gap is about even with the November, 1997, deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has projected a $80 billion surplus for fiscal 1999, which ends in September, 1999. But private analysts expect that projection to pare down when the CBO issues a new forecast in January. Washington posted a surplus of $70 billion in fiscal 1998, the first black-ink year in nearly three decades.


Tuesday, Dec. 22 -- The Federal Reserve Board's Open Market Committee will hold its final meeting of 1998, but almost no analyst expects a surprise holiday gift from policymakers. Almost all of the S&P MMS economists are forecasting that the target for the federal funds rate will remain at 4.75%. The Fed has cut interest rates three times since Sept. 29 in response to financial-market turmoil.


Wednesday, Dec. 23, 10 a.m. EST -- New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers in November were probably unchanged from their October level, says the S&P MMS survey. Orders have been fluctuating sharply in recent months. In October, bookings fell 2.2%, following a 1.3% gain in September. Swings in aircraft demand have caused much of the volatility.


Thursday, Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Personal income probably increased by a solid 0.4% in November, the same as the advance posted in October. That's suggested by the gains in employment and weekly pay for the month. Consumer spending likely increased 0.2%. Nonauto retail sales were up 0.4% in November, but vehicle purchases were weak--and the warm weather cut into household demand for energy.