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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Monday, Dec. 16, 9:15 a.m.

Output by the nation's factories, mines, and utilities probably dropped by about 0.1% in November, according to economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The loss is suggested by the drop in factory jobs and a decline in the National Association of Purchasing Management's index of industrial activity. A decrease in auto production will likely lead the overall drop. The expected loss in output suggests that industry used only 79.3% of capacity, down from 79.6% in October. The lack of any significant pickup in domestic demand, plus an involuntary rebuilding in inventories, is causing factories to cut their production schedules. Output was unchanged in October and was up 0.2% in September.

HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Dec. 17, 8:30 a.m.

Construction on new housing probably stood at an annual rate of 1.07 million in November. Starts were a bit higher in October, at a 1.1 million pace. In November, bad weather hampered homebuilding in the Midwest, but the weakness in sales elsewhere in the U. S. indicates demand for new homes remains soft.

CAPITAL SPENDING PLANS Wednesday, Dec. 18, 8:30 a.m.

The Commerce Dept.'s first survey of spending plans for new plants and equipment for 1992 is likely to show that any gain next year will come in the second half. Spending fundamentals, such as profits, product demand, and credit availability, are too weak to support much new investment in the winter or spring. In 1991, capital spending is estimated to have increased just 0.5%.

MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT Thursday, Dec. 19, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS consensus expects that the trade deficit narrowed slightly in October, to $6.6 billion, down from $6.8 billion in September. Exports, which were up 3% in September, probably changed little in October. Imports, up 3.2% in September, may have fallen in October, helped in part by declining oil prices.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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