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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

FOMC MEETING

Tuesday, Mar. 25 -- The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve

Board will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. A slight

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

Companies, thinks the policymakers will keep short-term interest rates

unchanged, leaving the federal funds rate at 5.25%. However, almost all

economists surveyed by MMS expect a rate hike by the May 20 meeting, as solid

economic growth, tight labor markets, and nascent cost pressures raise

inflation prospects. The Fed has not moved rates since January, 1996, when it

cut the fed funds rate a quarter point.

EXISTING HOME SALES

Tuesday, Mar. 25, 10 a.m.EST -- Existing home sales probably increased

slightly, to an annual rate of 3.95 million in February, after rising 2.1%, to

3.94 million, in January. Although bond yields are rising, mortgage rates have

not increased enough to choke off housing demand.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Tuesday, Mar. 25, 10 a.m.EST -- The Conference Board's index of consumer

sentiment probably fell only a bit in March, to a reading of 118, from 118.4 in

February. The big surprise in the February data came in the present-situation

index, which rose from 141.2 to 143.4, a 27-year high.

DURABLE GOODS ORDERS

Wednesday, Mar. 26, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The MMS survey expects that new orders

taken by durable-goods manufacturers likely dropped 0.3% in February, following

a 4% increase in January. The backlog of unfilled orders was probably unchanged

in February after rising 1%.

NEW HOME SALES

Friday, Mar. 28, 10 a.m.EST -- New single-family homes probably sold at an

annual rate of 860,000 in February. The housing market in January surprised

almost everyone: New home sales jumped 8.6%, to an 870,000 pace, so some

fallback is expected in February.


Later, Baby
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