Businessweek Archives

The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

The Week Ahead

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

Monday, May 3, 10 a.m.

Building spending likely fell by 0.7% in storm-blighted March, after rising 0.1% in February, say economists surveyed by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International.

NAPM SURVEY

Monday, May 3, 10 a.m.

The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of business activity probably rose to 54.5% in April from 54% in March.

LEADING INDICATORS

Tuesday, May 4, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS survey calls for a 0.8% decline in the government's March composite index of leading indicators. That is worrisome because the index was flat in January, and rose only 0.5% in February.

PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS

Thursday, May 6, 10 a.m.

Did the first-quarter economy repeat the fourth quarter's productivity jump of 4.7%? Not likely, but output per hour worked in the nonfarm business sector probably managed to rise at a respectable 1% annual rate. That means unit labor costs likely increased at a 2.5% annual rate last quarter, after falling by 0.3% at the end of 1992. These expectations are suggested by the 3.5% rise in compensation costs along with the small gains in output and total hours worked in the economy in the first quarter.

EMPLOYMENT

Friday, May 7, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS economists expect that nonfarm payrolls rose by 165,000 in April. Employment had dropped by 22,000 in March, but a steep drop in construction jobs more than accounted for the falloff. Even with the solid gain expected in new jobs, though, the unemployment rate probably was unchanged in April, from March's relatively high 7%.

INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Friday, May 7

Consumers probably increased their credit loads by just $800 million in March. Installment debt had risen by $1.17 billion in February.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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