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The Week Ahead

Business Week Index



Monday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m.EST -- Spending on building projects probably increased

by 0.2% in September, projects the median forecast of economists surveyed by

MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The expected small rise

follows a 0.9% gain in August, but a 1.1% drop in July. A 6% decline in housing

starts, however, suggests residential construction alone was very weak in



Tuesday, Nov. 5 -- Sales of domestically made cars and trucks probably stood at

an annual rate of 13.3 million in October, says the MMS report. Vehicle sales

slipped 5.7%, to a 13.2 million pace, in September, the first month of the

model year. But rebates probably helped to lift demand last month.


Thursday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m.EST -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector

probably fell at about a 1% annual rate in the third quarter. Output, as

measured by real gross domestic product, grew at a 2.2% pace, while total hours

worked rose 3%. Productivity increased only 0.4% in the second quarter. Unit

labor costs for nonfarm industries likely grew at a 3% annual rate last

quarter, the same gain as in the second. Manufacturing productivity did much

better, probably growing at a 5.5% annual rate in the summer quarter on top of

a 2.1% advance in the second. So factory unit labor costs likely fell by about

2.5%, after rising 3.3% in the second quarter.


Thursday, Nov. 7, 3 p.m.EST -- Consumers probably took on $5.5 billion more in

new debt than they paid off in September, says the MMS survey. Although that

gain would be higher than the $3.3 billion borrowed in August, installment

credit is slowing. If the September number comes in as expected, the monthly

average of the third quarter will be $5.4 billion, down from the $6.7 billion

pace of the second quarter and a hefty $10.8 billion average in the first.

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