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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Monday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.EDT -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers,

and retailers probably grew by 0.2% in July, according to the median forecast

of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

The gain would follow a 0.1% decline in May and a 0.1% increase in June.

Factories have already reported a 0.2% advance in their stock levels in July,

while wholesale inventories were up 0.1%. Business sales likely increased by a

strong 1.5% in July after falling 0.5% in June. Wholesale shipments alone shot

up by 2.4% in July. As a result, the inventory to sales ratio for all

businesses could fall to a new record low.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 9:15 a.m.EDT -- Output at the nation's factories, mines, and

utilities probably rose by 0.4% in August, says the MMS forecast. That's

suggested by the rebound in factory hours and employment. Motor-vehicle

production likely led the increase last month. In July, output rose 0.2%. The

average operating rate for all industry probably edged up to 83.4% in August

from 83.2% in July.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The foreign-trade deficit for goods and

services likely widened in July, to $8.5 billion from $8.1 billion in June.

Exports, which dropped 0.3% in June, are forecast to have risen in July.

Imports, down 3.3% in June, probably bounced back even stronger. Still, the

July forecast would be an improvement from the deficit's average for the second

quarter, suggesting trade is not a drag on economic growth this quarter.

HOUSING STARTS

Thursday, Sept. 19, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The MMS survey projects that housing starts

fell to an annual rate of 1.43 million in August. If so, that would be the

fourth consecutive decline, including a 1.3% drop in July, to 1.46 million. In

recent surveys, builders say they are beginning to see a slowdown in

home-buying activity.


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