The Week Ahead

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Tuesday, Mar. 20, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The January trade deficit in goods and services is expected to remain virtually unchanged, at $32.9 billion, from $33 billion in December. That is the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos.

FOMC MEETING

Tuesday, Mar. 20, 9 a.m. EST -- The Federal Reserve Board's Open Market Committee will meet to set monetary policy. According to the S&P MMS survey, economists expect another one-half percentage point cut in the federal funds rate in an effort to reverse the economic slowdown.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2 p.m. EST -- The U.S. Treasury will likely report a deficit of $44.5 billion for February, after a surplus of $76.4 billion in January.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Wednesday, Mar. 21, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices for goods and services likely rose just 0.2% in February, after rising a larger than expected 0.6% in January. That's suggested by falling natural gas prices. Excluding food and energy, the core index probably also rose 0.2%.

LEADING INDICATORS

Thursday, Mar. 22, 10 a.m. EST -- The Conference Board's index of leading indicators probably fell 0.2% in February, based on the S&P MMS survey. In January, the index rose 0.8%, the largest jump in two years, bringing the index back to its October, 2000, level.

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