The Week Ahead


Monday, Mar. 20, 2 p.m.EST -- The U.S. Treasury will likely report a budget deficit of $40 billion for February, says the median forecast of economists polled by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Last February the deficit was $42.3 billion. The Treasury, however, is still on track to post a surplus of about $180 billion for all of fiscal 2000, which ends in September.


Tuesday, Mar. 21, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The U.S. trade deficit probably widened once again in January, to $26.8 billion from $25.5 billion in December. In January, exports likely held steady after jumping 3.2% in December. But imports, which grew in every month of 1999, continued the uptrend into early 2000, lifted largely by more expensive oil shipments.


Tuesday, Mar. 21, 9 a.m.EST -- The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will meet to set monetary policy for the next eight weeks. The unanimous view of the S&P MMS economists is that the Fed will raise the federal funds rate target by a quarter point, to 6%, and the discount rate by the same amount, to 5.5%. The Fed made rate hikes of similar amounts on Feb. 2. In recent speeches, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan has indicated that, with demand still strong, the central bank is not finished raising interest rates.


Friday, Mar. 24, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The S&P MMS survey expects no change in durable-goods orders for February. New bookings fell 1.9% in January, but that followed a 6.5% surge in December. The backlog of unfilled orders is in record territory.

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