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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

INITIAL UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Thursday, Jan. 21, 8:30 a.m.

New filings for state unemployment-insurance benefits probably popped up to about 320,000 for the week ended Jan. 9. Claims had fallen to a 212-year low at the end of December, but office closings for Christmas likely understated the true number of newly unemployed. With the holidays past, claims should bounce up for a few weeks but then continue to trend lower as the economy and job growth strengthen.

MONEY SUPPLY

Thursday, Jan. 21, 4:45 p.m.

The Federal Reserve Board will probably report that M2--the most widely followed measure of the money supply--grew by about $3 billion for the week of Jan. 11. The growth in M2 began to pick up in the third quarter, but then it flattened out in the fourth. As a result, the money supply failed to reach even the low end of its target range of 2.5% to 6.5% for 1992. The M2 monetary aggregate--which includes cash, checkable deposits, small time deposits, and other items--has gotten off to a poor start for 1993 as well. For the week ended Dec.28, M2 rose by $3.7 billion, but that followed a combined drop of more than $11 billion in the previous two weeks. Growth of M2 has been slowing down for three years, and the Fed has indicated that it may change its 1993 targets of 2.5% to 6.5% to a lower range.

HOUSING STARTS

Friday, Jan. 22, 8:30 a.m.

Housing starts likely rose to an annual rate of 1.25 million in December, say economists polled by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The December rate would be the best housing performance since March. In November, starts stood at a 1.24 million annual pace. Stormy weather in the Northeast and West, however, may have caused some builders to postpone projects, even though demand seems to have picked up at the end of 1992. If so, the December number may be a bit lower than expected. Still, low mortgage rates and higher consumer confidence should lift homebuilding slightly in 1993.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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