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Week ahead: Lots of economic data out this week, including Q2 GDP

By Neil Irwin

Lots of data this week, with the highlight Friday when figures are released estimating the size of the gross domestic product in the second quarter.

The week begins with home sales numbers for last month, which forecasters expect will show a 4 percent uptick. Sales plummeted 32.7 percent in May, after the expiration of a home buyers tax credit, so the question is whether the post-credit collapse is done with and sales activity will rise.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index comes out, and analysts expect it to be flat for May, after an 0.4 percent rise in April, as the expiration of the tax credit reduced demand for housing and thus reduced upward pressure on prices.

Consumer confidence numbers are projected to have edged down this month.

A report on durable goods is expected to show that orders rose 1 percent last month, roughly reversing a May decline. That would be a sign that capital spending by businesses continues despite some recent softness in the data. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, durable goods orders are projected to have risen only 0.4 percent.

The Federal Reserve is slated release its beige book, a compilation of anecdotal data from across the country, which should show continued economic growth.

The big news of the week will be the second-quarter gross domestic product number that the Commerce Department releases Friday, the broadest measure of economic activity. The official consensus forecast from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is that GDP rose at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-through-June period, but even that might be too optimistic, because not all survey respondents will have updated their predictions based on disappointing trade and retail data.

Many forecasters expect a number in the 2.1 percent range, reflecting the fact that corporate efforts to rebuild inventories and fiscal stimulus are fading. That pace of growth would be below the long-term growth trajectory of the U.S. economy and would indicate a weakening recovery.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  |  July 26, 2010; 9:59 AM ET
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