Here is a look at this week's economic news calendar:
[Income expected: +0.4 percent / prior: +0.3 percent]
[Spending expected: +0.8 percent / prior: +0.3 percent]
U.S. consumer spending shot up a surprisingly strong 0.9 percent in December as shoppers, enjoying a respite from inflation, dipped into savings or tapped assets to make purchases, a government report showed Monday. The Commerce Department said its price index for consumer spending was flat for the month, with the core rate, which strips out food and energy, up just 0.1 percent. Analysts had expected the core index to rise 0.2 percent. The rise in spending, which beat forecasts for a 0.7 percent gain, outstripped the second straight monthly 0.4 percent increase in personal income.
Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits for any U.S. company on Monday $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from high oil and natural-gas prices and solid demand for refined products. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations and Exxon shares rose more than 3 percent in afternoon trading.
The Energy Department reported the price of gasoline increased 2 cents last week. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded now stands at $2.36 -- the highest price since the week of Nov. 7, 2005. Prices are 23 percent above their levels from a year ago ($1.91).
[expected: 59.5 / prior: 61.5]
The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said its business barometer eased to 58.5 in January from 60.8 in December. Economists had forecast the index at 59.8. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector, and the index has been above that level for almost three years.
[Rate at 4.25 percent / expect a 0.25 percent increase]
Most economists expect an interest rate hike at this week's meeting of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee. If history is any guide, a key federal rate will tick up 0.25 percent, the 14th time that has happened since June 2004. This FOMC session is also the final Fed meeting of Greenspan's 18-year tenure as head of the nation's central bank.
The Senate has confirmed Ben Bernanke as the 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He takes the reins of the nation's central bank on Feb. 1.
Expect the economy to be a central theme in Bush's sixth-year State of the Union address. Will outgoing Fed Chair Alan Greenspan get the longest bipartisan ovation of the night? The smart money says so.
[expected: +0.1 percent / prior: +0.2 percent]
The U.S. Commerce Department showed construction spending rose 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.161 trillion from an upwardly revised $1.149 trillion in November. Analysts had expected a rise of just 0.2 percent.
[expected: 58.0 / prior: 59.1]