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-- The third and final reading on fourth-quarter gross domestic product is set to be released before Friday's opening bell.

Economists are expecting an upward revision to 3.1% from 2.8%. Last time growth was revised down from the initial estimate of 3.2%. Even if the number just held steady, it would be above third-quarter GDP growth of 2.6% so indications are that there's still moderately strong demand out there if you can keep track of all those revisions.

On the inflation front, the GDP price index was little revised, coming in at 0.4%, compared to the initial estimate of 0.3%. Commodities continue to rise with gold and silver hitting record highs. Wheat is jumping on concerns about weather in major wheat growing areas. Crude continues to climb. The manufacturing indexes had survey takers saying they were seeing input prices rise. So, it's pretty easy to guess which direction this number is going in. Also Friday, the Michigan consumer sentiment number comes out at 9:55 a.m. ET. Remember, this report is a survey to 500 households. That's it.

Overall, despite continued headlines full of uncertainty from abroad, stocks seem to have resumed the upward trajectory they've enjoyed since December. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

has risen in five of the past six sessions, and is back comfortably above 12,000.

Year-to-date, the blue-chip index is up 5.1% and with the first calendar quarter set to wrap up next week, earnings expectations will move to the forefront of investors' minds. There are high hopes for companies to report strong numbers. According to

Thomson Reuters

, analysts are currently expecting earnings growth of 13.8% from the S&P 500 for the first quarter, down from growth of 37.2% for the fourth quarter, but up from expectations for growth of 12.2% back in January.

What is an unusual pattern of late is the combination of gold, oil and equities all rising together. Normally there is a disconnect between with gold rising and equities falling on fear. What has been falling is bonds, as there is an expectation that Japan will begin selling its Treasury holdings to help pay for its rebuilding efforts at some point.

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Plus, with the employment numbers stabilizing, there seems to be less fear in the market. The four-week average of claims has stayed below 400,000 for four weeks in a row, and economist John Ryding of RDQ Economics believes there will be a 200,000-plus increase in private payrolls for March.


Written by Debra Borchardt in New York


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