Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
Monday, Dec. 16, 9:15 a.m.EST -- Output at factories, mines, and utilities
likely bounced back by 0.5% in November, after dropping by a similar amount in
October. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS
International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies, and is suggested by the gains
in factory payrolls and overtime. The median forecast also expects that the
average operating rate for all industries increased to 83% last month, from
82.7%. Factory output dropped in October because the strike at General Motors
Corp. in Canada caused a shortage of auto parts. As a result, some GM plants in
the U.S. closed, and vehicle production dropped off by 8.1%.
Tuesday, Dec. 17, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Ground was probably broken on new housing
units totaling an annual rate of 1.39 million in November. That would be a
small uptick from the 1.37 million housing starts in October. Starts fell a
steep 6.1% in September, and another 5.1% in October.
Tuesday, Dec. 17 -- The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve
Board will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. All of the MMS
economists expect that the Fed will leave the federal funds rate unchanged at
5.25%. The last policy move was in January, 1996, when the Fed cut a quarter of
a percentage point from the fed funds rate, the overnight rate for interbank
Thursday, Dec. 19, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The trade deficit for goods and services
likely narrowed in October, to $10.3 billion. In September, the trade gap
widened, to a larger-than-expected $11.3 billion. The MMS economists forecast
that exports were unchanged after falling 1.4% in September. Imports probably
fell after increasing for three months in a row. A deterioration in the U.S.
foreign trade gap subtracted more than one percentage point from economic
growth in the third quarter.