90 minutes ahead of the opening bell and thirty before a GDP release that should show economic growth at a four-year high, equities are trading higher, commodities are mixed, and the dollar is stronger.

A snapshot from 8:00 shows Dow futures up 39 points to 10101 and S&P 500 futures up 4.30 points to 1,083. WTI Crude oil is up 10 cents to $73.74 per barrel but Spot Gold is $2.70 lower to $1,084.40.

The dollar is stronger primarily due to weakness in the yen, according to Benjamin Reitzes from BMO.

“There was a slew of Japanese data out, but the yen’s move was also driven by concern from the minutes of the Bank of Japan’s December meeting about the currency’s strength and volatility,” he said. “The other major currencies are higher except for the euro which is flat and continues to be weighed down by Greek fiscal worries.”

Key Events Today:

8:30 ― Gross Domestic Product should reflect strong growth in the final quarter of 2009. The consensus prediction is to see 4.5% growth, more than the double the pace of Q3’s +2.2%.

Analysts at Nomura said the numbers are driven by inventory rates. “The acceleration in growth from Q2 owes entirely to a slowdown in inventory destocking. We expect that real private inventories declined by just $25bn during the quarter, an improvement from a decline of about $140bn previously. This $115bn swing should add 3.6 percentage points to the annualized quarterly growth rate.”

Ian Shepherdson from HFE added: “We look for a 5.5% leap in GDP, with inventories contributing about 4.0 percentage points. Consumption should be up 1.9%, with fixed investment down 1.2%. Both exports and imports should rise about 23%. The GDP deflator should rise 2.0%.”

9:45 ― The Chicago Business Barometer is generally considered the best tool to predict the nationwide ISM survey of manufacturing conditions, which comes out next week. Estimates are for the index to lose 3 points in January to 57.0, which despite the poor month-to-month comparison still represents clear growth for the fourth straight month (anything above 50.0 suggests economic expansion.)

“Several manufacturing surveys have shown some cooling after a period of strong gains,” said analysts at Nomura. “This is a regular cyclical pattern and does not suggest the sector is likely to slip back into recession.”

10:00 ― Revisions to Consumer Sentiment should be marginally positive, economists believe. The Reuter's/U of Michigan report inched up three-tenths to 72.8 in the preliminary reading this month and final revisions are expected to produce a 73.0 level, despite rising jobless claims, a high unemployment rate, and recent volatility in the stock market.

“Improving assessments of current conditions are driving the index higher,” said analysts from IHS Global Insight, who look for a 73.3 score. “With labor market conditions improving, households are more confident about employment and income prospects. Upper income households, benefiting from the recovery in stock prices, are expected to rate buying conditions more favorably.”