Hope and change: Signs of life in the economy?

What’s more, a report from the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit declined unexpectedly in February as exports rose. It’s more evidence, some experts said, that the economy’s troubles may be easing.

Many analysts still expect job losses to continue through the end of the year and the U.S. unemployment rate — which reached 8.5% last month — to hit double digits before declining in 2010.

But while unemployment may continue rising, President Obama’s top economic advisor, Lawrence H. Summers, said there was no longer “that sense of a free fall” in the economy…

A report that all 19 of the nation’s largest banks were likely to pass the government’s so-called stress tests for financial health also buoyed confidence.