The end of the UK's longest-ever recession should finally be confirmed in official figures on Tuesday.
Experts predict the beleaguered economy grew by 0.4% between October and December - ending a record six straight quarters of contraction.
During 18 months of recession brought on by the credit crunch and then financial crisis, public borrowing has ballooned to an estimated £178 billion while output has slumped 6%.
This far exceeds the recession of the early 1990s and is the worst slump since Conservative Margaret Thatcher took office 30 years ago.
The data should reflect a slow recovery among services firms - accounting for more than two-thirds of the economy - as signalled by recent surveys.
Manufacturers are also likely to have seen tentative growth, helped by the Government's cash-for-bangers scrappage scheme, despite disappointing retail sales figures for December last week.
Official confirmation of recovery will mean that the UK is the last of the major G7 economies to leave recession.
Faint signs of green shoots may also ease the political pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who faces a general election within months.
But nerves remain over the strength of the recovery - in particular the threat of a 'double-dip' recession as savage spending cuts loom and the Bank of England begins to move interest rates up from their current record low.
Economists also forecast a return to growth in the third quarter of 2009, but were caught off-guard by a shock 0.4% decline in the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) first estimate, later revised upwards to a 0.2% fall.