U.S. fourth-quarter growth raised to 2.6 percent

Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:36am EDT
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic growth was a bit faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter, displaying underlying strength that could bolster views that the slowdown in activity early in the year would be temporary.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, up from the 2.4 percent pace it reported last month. The revision reflected a stronger pace of consumer spending than previously estimated.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected fourth-quarter GDP growth would be raised to a 2.7 percent rate. The economy expanded at a 4.1 percent pace in the July-September quarter.

The composition of growth in the fourth quarter suggested underlying strength in the economy, with consumer spending raised sharply higher and the pace of restocking by businesses not as robust as previously estimated.

In addition, business spending on equipment was a bit stronger than previously estimated and the decline in government outlays was a little less pronounced.

The revisions suggested the economy had momentum as 2013 ended and should regain strength once the effects of unseasonably cold weather that dampened activity at the beginning of this year start to abate.

Growth in the first quarter is expected to have slowed to a pace of around 2 percent.

Output has also been dampened by the expiration of long-term unemployment benefits, cuts to food stamps and businesses placing fewer orders with manufacturers as they work through a pile of unsold goods in their warehouses.

Consumer spending grew at a more brisk 3.3 percent rate, reflecting strong growth in services. That reflected increased spending on health care and utilities.   Continued...

 
People shop for lumber at a Home Depot store in New York, July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton