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Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
Wednesday, Sept. 6 -- Sales of domestically made cars and light trucks probably
stood at an annual rate of 12.3 million in August, according to the median
forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill
Cos. Although some auto makers will disclose their sales earlier, the data for
total sales will have to wait until others, including Ford Motor Co., report on
Sept. 6. The expected August sales pace would be a rebound after the year's
steady decline in vehicle purchases. In July, sales fell a steep 6.3%, to a
pace of just 11.9 million, even though many carmakers offered rebates and other
incentives. The sales downtrend lifted auto inventories and caused a drop in
production, which has accounted for two-thirds of the drop in factory output
Thursday, Sept. 7, 8:30 a.m. -- New filings for state unemployment benefits
during the week ended Sept. 2 will probably fall to about 310,000. Claims had
picked up in July, going above 400,000 in the second week. The rise partly
reflected auto-plant shutdowns, which pushed up filings in that month. But
jobless claims have fallen back since then, with only 348,000 in the week ended
Aug. 19. Still, claims remain at a high level, given the tightness of the labor
Friday, Sept. 8, 4 p.m. -- The MMS survey forecasts that consumers probably
took on $9.5 billion more in installment debt in July than they paid off. That
would not be much different from the $9.6 billion added in June, but the
increases in both months are much slower than the $13.1 billion averaged in the
three months ended in May. The July slowdown is suggested by the 0.1% drop in
retail sales overall and the weakness in car purchases in particular. The
recent surge in borrowing has lifted the ratio of installment debt to
disposable income to 18.5% in June, near the record peak of the late 1980s.
Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, is leading the runup.