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) -- The advance read on first-quarter economic activity, or GDP, will be in the spotlight Friday, and economists are predicting another quarter of growth.

Gross domestic product

, or GDP, likely rose 3.3% in the first quarter, according to a

consensus. That would be down from 5.6% rise in the fourth quarter, but would mark a strong turnaround from the 6.4% decline in the first quarter of 2009. The report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.

"At 5.6%, fourth-quarter GDP growth was pumped up by a slower pace of inventory drawdown -- in the arcane world of GDP accounting a slower pace of depletion adds to growth," Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business and a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, wrote in an email. "Although the inventory rebuild has begun, the pace is slow reflecting tepid sustainable demand for U.S. goods and services."

Also on the economic front, the April read on the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be posted shortly after the market opens for trading, with economists predicting slight increases from March's levels.

The stream of corporate earnings peters out as the week ends, although investors will still need to watch for reports from


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-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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