The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Sept. 21, 8:30 a.m.EDT Copyright The U.S. trade deficit for goods and services likely narrowed only slightly in July, to $23.6 billion from a record-shattering $24.6 billion in June. That's according to the median forecast of economists questioned by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Exports, which rose just 0.5% in June, are expected to post another small gain. And imports probably fell back a bit in July after jumping 3.9% in June. The soaring trade deficit subtracted nearly 1.5 percentage points from economic growth in the second quarter. Although the trade gap is expected to narrow a bit in the second half, any additional growth the smaller deficit gives will be very small.


Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m.EDT Copyright The Treasury Dept. is likely to report a budget deficit of $9.3 billion in August, says the S&P MMS survey. That's little changed from the $11.2 billion gap of August, 1998. For fiscal 1999, which ends in September, the federal budget remains on track to total a surplus almost double the $69.2 billion of 1998.


Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m.EDT Copyright The Federal Reserve Board will release its assessment of regional economic activity as reported by its 12 district banks. According to S&P MMS, only about 8% of the economists surveyed now expect the Fed to hike short-term interest rates at its policy meeting on Oct. 5. That percentage might rise if the Beige Book, which is prepared in advance of each policy meeting, contains information on whether excess demand is tightening labor markets further and lifting wages.

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