The Week Ahead

PURCHASING MANAGERS' INDEX

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m. EDT -- The National Association of Purchasing Management's August index of industrial activity probably inched up to 44%, from 43.6% in July. That's according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m. EDT -- Building outlays in July probably remained unchanged after tumbling 0.7% in June. Over the third quarter, residential construction is expected to slip 1%, while commercial construction outlays are expected to fall 13%.

VEHICLE SALES

Wednesday, Sept. 5 -- Sales of U.S.-made and imported cars and light trucks probably totaled an annual rate of 16 million units for August, down from 16.2 million in July and the second-quarter rate of 16.6 million. While vehicle sales have softened, monthly totals are still healthy. One reason: Dealers continue to offer large rebates and incentives.

EMPLOYMENT

Friday, Sept. 7, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- Nonfarm payrolls likely dropped by just 5,000 jobs in August, after 42,000 cuts in July. Manufacturing is expected to show a decline of 28,000 jobs in August, following a loss of 49,000 jobs in July. The unemployment rate likely hit 4.6% in August, and the average workweek probably slipped to 34.2 hours, from 34.3 hours in July.

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