Investors’ primary focus continues to be on the economic indicators as we near the next round of corporate earnings pre-releases.  The week’s economic releases were decidedly more mixed than typical of the last few weeks, but the trend is still very good.  Tuesday’s news from the Fed caused some difficulty for the stock and the bond markets.  They left rates unchanged and dropped their stance that weakness poses the greatest threat to the economy, which was good news for economy watchers, but almost before the words were out, traders started selling stocks and bonds on fear that interest rates would soon be rising.  The Fed said “the information that has become available since the last meeting indicates that the economy, bolstered by a marked swing in inventory investment, is expanding at a significant pace.” 

Evidence is mounting that we may be very close to the low point in the economy.  The cyclical recovery is likely to be more muted than earlier expected, but it looks doubtful that we will see a full-scale retreat.   Six reductions in the overnight bank-lending rate by the Federal Reserve and government mailings of advance tax refund checks should provide consumers with reason to keep spending.