Business news coming up this week

Here are the economic reports and earnings out this week:

Monday morning the National Assn. of Realtors released its pending home sales index for January, which found the number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 2% -- more than forecast. It's the latest sign the economy and the real estate market are improving.

The latest earnings from Lowe's Cos. Inc. is another good sign for the economy. The home-improvement chain reported net income of $322 million, or 26 cents per share, up from $285 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $11.63 billion from $10.48 billion, more than analysts forecast.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases its report on durable goods -- long-lasting products such as cars and washing machines -- for January; Standard & Poor's releases its S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for December and the fourth quarter; the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for February.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department releases fourth-quarter gross domestic product, or GDP, numbers. The Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book survey of economic conditions around the country. Earnings are out from Costco.

On Thursday, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, the Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for January, mortgage company Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, the institute for Supply Management releases its February manufacturing index, the Commerce Department releases construction spending for January, and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testifies about monetary policy and the economy before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Also Thursday, automakers report vehicle sales for February and retailers release February sales. Kroger Co., which operates the Ralphs grocery chain, reports earnings.

ALSO:

Lowe's net income climbs

Pending home sales rise 2% in January

Rising stock dividends regain allure as investment strategy

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