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The Week Ahead


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THE WEEK AHEAD

GREENSPAN TESTIMONY

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m.EST -- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will

travel to Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Budget Committee on the

state of the U.S. economy. Of particular interest to Fed watchers will be any

mention of building price pressures.

HOUSING STARTS

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Housing starts probably fell to an annual

rate of 1.45 million in December, according to the median forecast of

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

Starts unexpectedly surged in November, jumping 9.2% to a 1.51 million pace.

New building in the Midwest and South was especially strong. Despite higher

mortgage rates in the first half of the year, homebuilders were quite busy in

1996. Housing is expected to hold steady in 1997. Starts in January, however,

might be curtailed by the bad weather in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest.

BEIGE BOOK

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2 p.m.EST -- The Federal Reserve's roundup of regional

economic activity will be released in advance of the policy meeting on Feb.

4-5. The financial markets will try to glean evidence of economic trends from

the Beige Book. In particular: whether retail sales bounced back in early 1997

after a modest holiday season and whether regional shortages of skilled labor

have begun to push up wages.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m.EST -- The MMS median forecast expects that the U.S.

Treasury will report a budget surplus of $10 billion for December, a month in

which most quarterly income taxes are paid. The projected surplus is almost

twice the $5.2 billion reported in December, 1995. However, for the first

quarter of fiscal 1997, which began on Oct. 1, 1996, the federal deficit will

likely total about $68 billion. That is way above the $55.9 billion in the

first quarter of fiscal 1996.


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