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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 8:30 a.m. EST--The foreign trade deficit for all goods and

services likely widened in November to $10.1 billion, from October's $9.7

billion. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS

International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Exports, which jumped 2.4% in

October, probably remained at their record level of $80 billion, but imports

likely increased for the fifth consecutive month. Trade probably added to

economic growth in the fourth quarter. But problems in the Commerce Dept.'s

seasonal-adjustment process plus a drop in merchandise exports headed to

Southeast Asia means that the trade deficit will likely widen quite

substantially in the first quarter of 1998, subtracting from growth.

BEIGE BOOK

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2 p.m. EST--The Federal Reserve Board's roundup of regional

economic activity will be released in advance of the first monetary-policy

meeting of 1998, scheduled for Feb. 3 and 4. The financial markets examine the

Beige Book for insight into concerns among policymakers. In addition to the

usual anecdotes on retail activity, housing, wage pressures, and labor

shortages, this latest Book is likely to contain information on whether the

Asian financial crisis is starting to hit U.S. businesses.

HOUSING STARTS

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

rate of 1.51 million in December. That follows three straight gains, including

a 0.8% rise in November, to a 1.53 million pace.

TREASURY BUDGET

Friday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m. EST--The Treasury Dept. will probably report a surplus

of $17 billion in December, says the MMS survey. That's a bit less than the

$18.5 billion posted in December, 1996. The U.S. government had a deficit of

only $22 billion for fiscal 1997 that ended in September, and Washington is now

wrangling over how to spend a projected budget surplus.


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