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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Tuesday, May 25, 10 a.m.

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence for May probably slipped to a reading of 65.8, down from 67.7 in April. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Better job growth likely lifted consumers' assessment of the present state of the economy, but the prospect of higher taxes is crimping households' optimism about their financial future.

DURABLE GOODS ORDERS

Wednesday, May 26, 8:30 a.m.

New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers probably increased by 1.5% in April. Orders dropped by 3.4% in March, but most of that decline was in aircraft. Continued cuts in defense ordering probably offset gains elsewhere last month. The small increase projected for new orders suggests that unfilled orders, which dropped 1.2% in March, fell again in April.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (REVISION)

Friday, May 28, 8:30 a.m.

The Commerce Dept.'s second look at the first quarter is likely to show slower growth than the pace of 1.8% reported originally. The huge widening in the March merchandise trade deficit suggests that the net export deficit will be revised sharply upward. Elsewhere, business inventories may not have accumulated as much as originally thought, while consumer spending and homebuilding may be revised slightly upward. The economy grew at a rapid 4.7% clip in the fourth quarter.

CORPORATE PROFITS

Friday, May 28, 8:30 a.m.

Aftertax profits at nonfinancial corporations probably grew by 6.8% in the first quarter, on top of an 8.5% advance in the fourth quarter. Sluggish demand held back company revenues last quarter, even as productivity gains slowed the growth of labor costs and lower interest rates reduced interest payments. Earnings may also have been hurt by payouts by insurance companies after the March blizzard.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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