The economic news released last week confirmed that the U.S. economy appears to have "stopped getting worse" in the first quarter of 2009 (Q1) and is tracking to our base case outlined in our 2009 Outlook, however, the labor market remains mired in a deep slump and is tracking to our 2009 bear case. Last week’s data also continued to suggest that the front end of the U.S. economy, consumer spending – which accounts for two-thirds of real gross domestic product (GDP) – will grow in Q1 2009 relative to Q4 2008, but that the "back-end" of the economy, mainly business spending on capital equipment and inventories, is still decelerating to the downside.  

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