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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

NEW HOME SALES

Monday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. -- Sales of new single-family homes likely fell in

October to an annualrate of 685,000, says the median forecast of economists

surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Sales in September

were 703,000. With mortgagerates up sharply from last year, fewer households

can afford to buy a new home. Single-family housing starts fell 7.4% in

October, and buildersreport weaker buyer traffic this autumn.

VEHICLE SALES

Monday, Dec. 5 -- Sales of U.S.-made cars and light trucks were probably

little changed in November from October's annualrate of 13.1 million, says the

MMS survey. Purchases of motor vehicles peaked in the first quarter. And some

auto makers are starting to lower their production schedules. General Motors

Corp., for instance, announced cuts in the January production of some Cadillac

models.

INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Wednesday, Dec. 7 -- Consumers likely continued to take on more debt in

October. The MMS economists project that installment credit grew an additional

$10 billion during the month. That's on top of monthly increases averaging

$10.9 billion over the past six months. In September, consumers added $10.6

billion in debt. Credit cards have always been convenient for big-ticket

purchases, but households are now using credit cards for even small items,

since plastic is accepted by so many more outlets, such as grocery stores and

discount chains. In addition, card users can accumulate such perks as

frequent-flier miles andrebates when they say: "Charge it."

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Thursday, Dec. 8, 8:30 a.m. -- During the week ended Dec. 3, new claims for

state unemployment benefits probablyrose to about 350,000, up from 326,000 in

the week ended Nov. 19. Filings typically increase in the week after a holiday,

and state offices were closed on Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving.


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