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Warming trend for the economy?

By Mark Hamrick · Bankrate.com
Monday, January 27, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

Amid freezing weather across much of the county, the coming week brings economic data that could get a warm reception. We have a full slate of economic reports and a Federal Reserve meeting.

Reports due include:

-December new home sales, due Monday at 10 a.m. (all times Eastern)

-January consumer confidence, due Tuesday at 10 a.m.

-Federal Reserve statement, due Wednesday at 2 p.m.

-Fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product, due Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

-December personal incomes and spending, due Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Temperature's rising

Let's start with what might be an under-appreciated part of the U.S. economy story of late: the rising temperature of economic growth. The Commerce Department is to release the first estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the fourth quarter of last year. Remember how in the third quarter, growth was pegged at a healthy 4.1 percent? The final three months of the year also likely had the economy zipping along, thanks to consumer spending.

"All in all, the fourth quarter is expected to show one of the strongest overall gains in recent years," says Jeffrey Rosen, chief economist with Briefing.com, who believes the economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent during the period.

A Hawaiian shirt for Ben Bernanke?

As for the Federal Reserve, it will likely acknowledge that the economy has been expanding at a moderate pace, including in the job market. That's even though bad weather may have cooled jobs creation during December. The central bank also is expected to announce a further pullback in its bond purchases, putting that so-called "quantitative" easing on track to end later this year.

The meeting marks an end to Chairman Ben Bernanke's tenure. Since he's a die-hard baseball fan, maybe Bernanke will head off with his wife to spring training and warmer temperatures, or to some other destination where monetary policy is not part of the game plan.

There will be no spring break for Bernanke successor Janet Yellen. Her first regularly scheduled meeting looms in March, and it will include a news conference.

The week ahead also will tell us how consumers are feeling and acting with reports from The Conference Board and the Commerce Department.

This week in business history:

Our moment back in time zips around the world to when the automotive age was still in its infancy.

On Jan. 30, 1920, the Japanese automaker Mazda was founded under a different name (Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd.). Nearly a century later, it employs tens of thousands of workers around the world. Mazda now boasts production facilities in the U.S., China, Russia, Mexico and South Africa.

Follow me on Twitter @Hamrickisms.

Bankrate Audio

Mark

Hamrick

Washington Bureau Chief, Bankrate.com

Joel

Naroff

President, Naroff Economic Advisors

Amanda

Rowe

Producer, Bankrate.com

FED UPDATE: Low rates to linger, Fed head says

Mark Hamrick and Greg McBride discuss the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee meets at least eight times a year. Its members include the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the president of the Federal.

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