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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

HOUSING STARTS

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Housing starts for February are expected to

have risen to an annual rate of 1.42 million, based on a survey of forecasts

compiled by MMS International, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. January

starts had risen to 1.35 million, after plunging 11% in December. Building

conditions remain favorable, and the rebound in January starts was especially

strong in the important single-family sector.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Wednesday, Mar. 19, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The consumer price index for February is

expected to have risen by a tame 0.2% for both the total index and the core

index, which excludes energy and food, according to the MMS survey. Both the

total and core indexes had risen a scant 0.1% in January. The overall index

should remain in check in coming months, since oil prices have fallen $5 per

barrel since the beginning of the year, but analysts will keep a close eye on

the core index for any sign that rising labor costs are putting pressure on

prices.

REAL EARNINGS

Wednesday, Mar. 19, 10 a.m.EST -- The inflation-adjusted weekly pay of

production workers is expected to have risen sharply in February, reflecting

the month's 2.6% jump in average weekly earnings and the expected 0.2% rise in

the CPI.

TRADE BALANCE

Thursday, Mar. 20, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services

is expected to have remained at $10 billion in January, says the MMS poll,

about even with $10.3 billion in December. Analysts expect both exports and

imports to edge up.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Friday, Mar. 21, 2 p.m.EST -- The Treasury Dept. is expected to report a

February budget deficit of $45.5 billion, compared with $44.3 billion in

February, 1996. So far this fiscal year, the deficit is ahead of last year's

total, but last year's deficit at this time was held down by the budget impasse

in Congress and the government shutdown.


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