cloudy
Tuesday February 9th, 2016 2:45AM

A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor from a grim start to 2014 and should show renewed strength into next year.<br /> <br /> That was the general view of analysts Wednesday after the government estimated that the economy grew at a fast 4 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. Consumers, businesses and governments joined to fuel the second-quarter expansion. The government also said growth was more robust last year than it had previously estimated.<br /> <br /> Whether the healthier expansion will lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected is unclear. The Fed will issue a statement later Wednesday after ending a policy meeting.<br /> <br /> The economy sprang back to life after a dismal winter in which it shrank at a sharp 2.1 percent annual rate. The government upgraded that figure from a previous estimate of a 2.9 percent drop. But it was still the biggest contraction since early 2009 in the depths of the Great Recession.<br /> <br /> Last quarter's bounce-back reinforced analysts' view that the economy's momentum is extending into the second half of the year, when they forecast annual growth of around 3 percent.<br /> <br /> The government also updated its estimates of growth leading into this year. They show the economy expanded in the second half of 2013 at the fastest pace in a decade and more than previously estimated. The revised data also show that the economy grew faster in 2013 than previously estimated, though more slowly in 2011 and 2012 than earlier thought.<br /> <br /> The second quarter's growth in the gross domestic product - the total output of goods and services - was the fastest since a 4.5 percent increase in July-September quarter of 2013.<br /> <br /> At the same time, a higher trade deficit slowed growth as imports outpaced an increase in exports.<br /> <br /> Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said that given last quarter's rebound, he's boosting his estimate for growth this year to 2 percent, up from a previous 1.7 percent forecast. Ashworth said the economy's growth also supported his view that the Fed will be inclined to start raising rates early next year.<br /> <br /> Most economists have been predicting that the Fed would wait until mid-2015 to start raising rates.<br /> <br /> "This GDP report supports our view that an improving economy will persuade the Fed to begin raising rates in March next year," Ashworth wrote in a research note.<br /> <br /> Ashworth is among a group of economists who think growing strength in the job market and the economy will prod the Fed to move faster to raise rates to make sure inflation doesn't get out of hand.<br /> <br /> Stock prices turned generally negative in the wake of the GDP report because some investors saw a greater likelihood that the Fed would raise rates sooner than expected.<br /> <br /> "We're at the point where we're not sure if good news is good news or bad news," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management.<br /> <br /> The GDP report showed that one measure of inflation rose 2 percent last quarter, up from a 1.3 percent rise in the first quarter. The Fed's inflation target is 2 percent, and for two years the GDP measure of inflation has been running below that level. Low inflation has given the Fed leeway to focus on boosting growth to fight high unemployment.<br /> <br /> The economy's sudden contraction in the first quarter had resulted from several factors. A severe winter disrupted activity across industries and kept consumers away from shopping malls and auto dealerships. Consumer spending slowed to an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent, the weakest in nearly three years.<br /> <br /> Last quarter, consumer spending accelerated to a growth rate of 2.5 percent. Spending on durable goods such as autos surged at a 14 percent annual rate, the biggest quarterly gain since 2009. Analysts said that was an encouraging sign of consumers' growing willingness to buy high-cost items like cars.<br /> <br /> "Better job growth, a rising stock market, falling gasoline prices - all those things are starting to resonate on Main Street," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.<br /> <br /> Hoffman suggested that five straight months of job gains above 200,000 were buoying both consumer and business confidence. He predicted that the July jobs report, to be released Friday, would show job growth of around 225,000.<br /> <br /> "I think the economy has finally moved from the slow lane to the passing lane," Hoffman said. He predicted growth of around 3 percent over the next year.<br /> <br /> Still, he said he didn't think the faster growth would lead the Fed to accelerate its first rate increase. Even with higher prices last quarter, inflation remains within the Fed's 2 percent target.<br /> <br /> Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, cautioned that risks remained, especially involving housing.<br /> <br /> In the April-June quarter, business investment in equipment jumped at a 7 percent rate after having fallen in the first quarter. Businesses also increased their stockpiling. The increase in inventories contributed two-fifths of the growth in the quarter.<br /> <br /> Housing, which had been falling for two straight quarters, rebounded in the spring, growing at a 7.5 percent annual rate.<br /> <br /> Government spending also recovered after two consecutive declines. The strength came from state and local governments, which offset the seventh quarterly decline in federal government spending.<br /> <br /> The government's revised estimates going back to 2011 show the economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.5 percent in last year's third quarter, up from a previous 4.1 percent estimate. The growth rate was 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter, up from an earlier 2.6 percent estimate.<br /> <br /> For 2013 as a whole, the government said the economy grew 2.2 percent, up from its earlier 1.9 percent estimate. But growth was weaker in 2011 and 2012 than previously estimated. It grew 2.3 percent in 2012, down from 2.8 percent. And growth in 2011 was downgraded to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says "there s...
10:40PM ( 4 hours ago )
Search for Missouri couple wanted for crimes across the South, including Ga., ends with one suspect dead and the other wounded
A weeklong search for a Missouri couple wanted in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended with one suspect dead and the other wounded Friday, after authorities say they chased the pair across the highway and through a rural neighborhood and exchanged gunfire with them in Florida's Panhandle.
By The Associated Press
9:57PM ( 3 days ago )
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while, buoying consumers, frustrating oil producers
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while.That reality is wreaking havoc and causing uncertainty for some governments and businesses, while creating financial windfalls for others. Less expensive...
6:18PM ( 6 days ago )
Cruz (R) expected to claim conservative Iowa caucus victory, with Clinton (D) and Sanders (D) deadlocked among liberal vote
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz swept to victory in Iowa's Republican caucuses Monday, overcoming billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were deadlocked in a tight race.
By The Associated Press
10:55PM ( 1 week ago )
America, its politics in flux as voting begins
On the eve of the first contest on the 2016 presidential election calendar, some voters are pushing for bolder, more uncompromising action, with an intensity that has shaken both the Republican and Democratic establishments.
By The Associated Press
9:00PM ( 1 week ago )