The 57-year-old Lew would also bring private sector and international experience to Treasury Department. He has held top jobs at Citigroup's wealth management branch and at the State Department, where he oversaw international economic issues in his first job for Obama.
A person familiar with the selection process said that experience was particularly important to the president, given the treasury secretary's key role in coordinating with European allies on the continent's debt crisis, among other global financial matters.
Lew, an observant Jew who doesn't work on Saturday, is well-liked in Washington by both Democrats and Republicans, and well-respected by staffers at the White House, where he has served as chief of staff since January 2012.
A pragmatic liberal, Lew has also been a key player in several negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill, including the recent talks to avert the "fiscal cliff."
If confirmed by the Senate, Lew would replace current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who plans to leave around Obama's Jan. 21 inauguration. He is expected to be easily confirmed by the Democratic-led Senate.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the expected nomination ahead of the president.