[Editor's Note: This is Part I of a two-part story that examines the U.S. economy's prospects for 2010. It's also the leadoff story for Money Morning's annual "Outlook" series, which will forecast the prospects for gold, oil, banking, and top investing trends in the New Year. Part II of the U.S. economy story will appear tomorrow (Wednesday).]
Historically, the U.S. stock market has been one of the key leading indicators of a U.S. economic rebound.
With the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up more than 60% from its March lows – and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up nearly 40% – prognosticators are finally confident that the U.S. economy will dodge the "double-dip" recession that has been the focus of much fear since the Bush and Obama administrations launched their financial counterattacks on the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.