Vital Signs: Jobs, Housing, Spending Still Look Gloomy in 2009

On deck: construction spending, car sales, ISM nonmanufacturing index, pending home sales, consumer credit, employment report

The economy begins the new year firmly in the grip of recession, as the economic reports in the upcoming week will plainly show. The data over the next couple of weeks will allow economists to firm up their estimates of the decline in fourth-quarter GDP, to be reported on Jan. 30. Many analysts believe the economy contracted more than 4% in the quarter, and a few think the decline could exceed 5%. A drop in that range would be the largest since the 1981-82 recession.

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