May 22, 2018
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Key economic events for the week of Dec. 19

By Neil Irwin, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A quiet week for economic news will include some key numbers on housing and November income and spending data.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday releases data on November housing starts, and analysts are expecting some improvement. Look for a 1.1 percent rise, to an annual pace of 635,000 new residential units constructed. The number of new building permits issued, which roared ahead in October and offer a more forward-looking indicator, are expected to edge down 1.4 percent.

Analysts on Wednesday expect data on existing home sales to show a 2.6 percent rise in November as a slow recovery in the volume of real estate transactions is forecast to have continued.

The third and final revision of third-quarter gross domestic product data on Thursday is expected to be unchanged, affirming the earlier estimate that the economy grew at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September.

The weekly release of data on claims for unemployment insurance is worth watching more than usual this week. The number fell to a three-year low last week, 366,000, and has been below 400,000 for five of the past six weeks. If levels remain low Thursday, it would bode well for the job market.

After a disappointing report on durable-goods orders for October, forecasters on Friday are expecting something of a rebound in November. Look for a 2 percent increase in overall durable goods orders, or a 0.9 percent rise in nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a good proxy for overall business investment.

Also Friday, personal income is expected to have risen 0.2 percent in November, with a 0.3 percent increase in spending. Most data have pointed to a stronger pace of overall economic growth in the fourth quarter, and this report should offer further evidence of an economy picking up to more than a 3 percent annual pace as the year reached its end.

New home sales data, meanwhile, like existing home sales earlier in the week, on Friday are expected to show modest improvement in activity, with a 2.6 percent gain forecast.

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