Analysts say the sluggish housing market is a major reason why growth also remains sluggish. Investment in the real estate sector is seen as having pulled back in the third quarter as stimulus measures aimed at reviving the sector expired.
Trade data out of the U.S. Commerce Department last week fueled speculation that trade will prove to be a drag on growth as imports continue to outweigh exports. The monthly U.S. trade deficit expanded 8.8 percent in August to $46.3 billion. That was up from $42.6 billion in July.
Imports rose 2.1 percent to $200.2 billion, reversing a 2.1 percent decline in July. Exports rose just 0.2 percent to $153.9 billion in August after a 2 percent gain in the previous month. The deficit for the year now totals $334.9 billion, up from $235 billion in the same period in 2009.
In a recent research note, economists at IHS Global Insight predicted that foreign trade would drag down GDP as imports continue to overshadow exports.
"The trade drag should be roughly offset by another surge in inventory accumulation, partly reflecting rising imports," they added. "Overall, the report should show the economy remaining on a sluggish growth path, giving the Fed no reason to change its mind about the quantitative easing that seems on the way on November 3."
But here's one that may surprise you: Consumer spending is expected to be a key contributor to GDP. Consumption is seen to be rising 2.4 percent in the third quarter from 2.2 percent in the second quarter. That would be the strongest pace of consumption since the start of the global financial crisis. But Mark Daniell, Chairman at the Cuscaden Group, says don't expect much more from the consumer.