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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

EMPLOYMENT COSTS

Tuesday, Apr. 27, 8:30 a.m.

The cost of wages and benefits paid by nonfarm businesses probably rose by 0.9% in the first quarter, say economists surveyed by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International. That's the same subdued advance as in the fourth quarter. Wage growth in particular has slowed since the recession ended, because job growth has been almost nonexistent.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT

Thursday, Apr. 29, 8:30 a.m.

The first-quarter economy probably grew at an annual rate of 2.6%, according to the MMS survey. If so, that would be almost half of the 4.7% growth rate posted at the end of 1992. Slower consumer spending and a rising trade deficit curbed GDP growth last quarter. Inflation, as measured by the GDP price deflator, likely rose at a 3% annual pace in the first quarter, up from the 2.3% in the fourth quarter.

NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES

Thursday, Apr. 29, 10 a.m.

New homes likely sold at an annual rate of 585,000 in March, down from 595,000 in February. Bad winter weather kept many consumers from house-hunting.

PERSONAL INCOME

Friday, Apr. 30, 10 a.m.

The median forecast of the MMS survey projects that personal income rose by 0.3% in March, on top of a 0.2% gain in February. That's suggested by a small gain in weekly pay. Consumer spending, however, is expected to fall by 0.1% in March, after a large 0.6% increase in February. The East Coast blizzard cut into retail shopping, and income-tax bills due in April probably caused some households to save more money in March. But spending on utility services was likely up strongly.

FACTORY INVENTORIES

Friday, Apr. 30, 10 a.m.

Inventories held by manufacturers probably grew by 0.1% in March, the same low rate of increase as in February. The blizzard may have prevented some factories from shipping out goods.


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