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The week ahead: State of the economy

This week's report from the government on home sales will give economic watchers an idea of where the economy is headed. Plus: RealNetworks holds its Seattle conference.

Following are some of the notable tech-related events scheduled for the week of Sept. 24 through Sept. 28.

This week's report from the government on sales of new and existing homes will give economic watchers an idea of where the economy is headed.

Some analysts believe that sales of such high-priced items offer a barometer on the American consumer's general willingness to spend. Economists will also watch for final Gross Domestic Product and Consumer Confidence data for further indications on the health of the U.S. economy.

Many conferences have been canceled since the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, but some events will go on as scheduled.

Internet media software maker RealNetworks will hold its conference this week. The company is also expected to announce details about its online music-subscription service, MusicNet, within the next few weeks.

MusicNet is a joint venture between RealNetworks and record labels including BMG Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Recorded Music.

The information was gathered from First Call, Hoover's Online, CCBN's StreetEvents and CNET Investor.

Other events scheduled this week:

Tech Events
Monday, Sept. 24
  • RealNetworks will host Real Conference 2001 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, Sept. 23-25. The event is geared toward those who wish to learn more about Internet media products by RealNetworks and will feature keynote speeches by company CEO Rob Glaser and executives from Sun Microsystems, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Hewlett-Packard.

  • Marcus Evans will conduct a conference on multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) at the Hilton Back Bay in Boston, Sept. 24-26. MPLS is software that helps manage the traffic on telecom networks. Executives from Alcatel, Juniper Networks, Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks and Cisco Systems will make presentations.

Tuesday, Sept. 25
  • The Seybold Conference will take place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Sept. 25-27. The conference focuses on the convergence of media and technology and will address topics including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Adobe Systems CEO Bruce Chizen will make a keynote speech along with executives from Apple Computer, Microsoft and HP.

  • Portland ITEC will take place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Sept. 25-26. The event is for IT professionals who want to learn about tech products from companies like Intel, Microsoft, Gateway, Verizon and AT&T Wireless.

  • The Privacy Foundation will host Worksurv, a free forum on workplace privacy, at the Denver Marriott City Center in Denver. The conference will focus on how current events affect the monitoring by employers of employees' e-mail and Internet use along with other issues.

  • IDG will host Enterprise ServerVision at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, an event that will discuss trends in the server market.

Wednesday, Sept. 26
  • Marcus Evans will conduct Mobile Net at the Crowne Plaza in San Francisco, Sept. 26-28. The event is for companies interested in how to capitalize on mobile Internet technologies that distribute Internet content and services. Companies including Google, Vindigo, AvantGo, DoubleClick and Microsoft will make presentations.

  • Security technology companies Foundstone and Entercept Technologies will hold an event on computer hacking in San Francisco. Executives from the companies will talk about hacker threats and the risks that affect business.

  • Storage Decisions 2001 will be held at the Hilton in Chicago, Sept. 26-28. The gathering is for professionals in the computer data-storage field. Keynote speakers will include EMC CEO Joseph Tucci and Veritas Software CEO Gary Bloom, as well as senior executives from IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, Legato Systems and Network Appliance.

Thursday, Sept. 27
  • The Experimental E-commerce conference will take place in the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., Sept. 27-29. The event will focus on potential advances in e-commerce like 3D Web site design and the virtual e-commerce experience. Keynote speakers will include Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University, and executives from Sapient and Adobe Systems.

Friday, Sept. 28
  • Toorcon is a computer security conference that will take place at the San Diego Concourse in San Diego, Sept. 28-30.

Earnings

Tuesday, Sept. 25

  • CMGI operates a stable of Internet companies involved with e-commerce, software and Internet marketing. Per-share consensus estimate for the second fiscal quarter: not available.

  • Micron Technology makes chips for PCs. Per-share consensus estimate for the fourth fiscal quarter: loss of 31 cents.

Wednesday, Sept. 26
  • Audiovoxx markets wireless phones, auto sound systems, vehicle security devices, video equipment and consumer-electronics products. Per-share estimate (from one analyst) for the third fiscal quarter: profit of 4 cents.

  • Corel makes the WordPerfect office software, which competes against Microsoft products. Per-share consensus estimate for the third fiscal quarter: profit of 2 cents.

Economic Reports

Monday, Sept. 24

  • The index of Leading Economic Indicators is expected to fall 0.1 percent for August as compiled by the Conference Board, a business group. In July, the LEI rose 0.3 percent. The index, designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle, is a combination of 10 indicators, including consumer expectations, money supply data, and the change in housing permits issued. A falling index generally indicates an oncoming recession, while a climbing index signals an expansion.

Tuesday, Sept. 25
  • Consumer Confidence, as reported by the Conference Board, represents consumer sentiment towards the economy. Analysts expect the confidence index to drop to 111.9 in September from the previous month's 114.3.

  • The National Association of Realtors reports Existing Home Sales for the month of August, which tallies the number of previously built homes sold nationwide. The data indicate the strength of demand in housing and in the overall economy on the premise that the economy heats up as more consumers buy homes, cars and other high-ticket items. Economists expect sales to rise to 5.21 million from 5.17 million in July.

Thursday, Sept. 27
  • Initial Claims refers to the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits each week as reported by the Department of Labor. Claims will be reported for the week of Sept. 22.

  • Durable Goods Orders represents the percentage increase or decrease of big-ticket items purchased, such as washing machines and refrigerators, as reported monthly by the Commerce Department. Economists use the number to measure demand in the economy. Economists expect orders to fall 0.5 percent in August vs. the previous month's drop of 0.7 percent.

  • The Commerce Department will release New Home Sales figures for August, which represents the number of new homes sold in the United States and serves as another measure of demand in the economy. Wall Street is looking for sales to fall to 925,000 compared with the 950,000 homes sold in July.

  • The Help Wanted Index is a monthly survey by the Conference Board of the volume of help-wanted advertising in major national newspapers. Wall Street uses the index to measure trends in job growth. No estimates were available for August, but the index remained unchanged at 58 in July from June's levels. The index was at 82 during July 2000.

Friday, Sept. 28
  • The Commerce Department will report final Gross Domestic Product numbers for the second quarter of 2001. GDP represents the value of U.S. goods and services. The government previously reported that GDP rose 0.2 percent for the quarter, and analysts think that number will be revised downward to 0.1 percent growth. GDP increased 1.3 percent in the first quarter.
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