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Consumers, businesses lift US economic growth in second quarter

GDP increased at 2.6% annual rate in the April-June period

Reuters  |  Washington 

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

The US accelerated in the second quarter as consumers ramped up spending and businesses invested more on equipment, confirming that the sluggish performance early in the year was temporary.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the April-June period, which included a boost from trade, the Commerce Department said in its advance estimate on Friday.

for the first quarter was revised down to a 1.2 percent rate from the previously reported 1.4 percent pace. First-quarter was the weakest in a year.

The rebound in growth, together with a tightening labor market, likely leaves the Federal Reserve on course to announce a plan to start reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities in September as well as raise interest rates for a third time this year.

The US central bank left rates unchanged on Wednesday and said it expected to start winding down its portfolio "relatively soon."

The increase in output was in line with economists' expectations.

The dollar .DXY fell against a basket of currencies after the release of the data, while prices for US government rose.

The grew 1.9 percent in the first half of 2017, making it unlikely that would top 2.5 percent for the full year. President Donald Trump has set an ambitious 3.0 percent target for 2017.

While the Trump administration has vowed to cut corporate and individual taxes as part of its business-friendly agenda, Republicans' struggles in Congress to pass a healthcare restructuring have left analysts skeptical on the prospects of fiscal stimulus. So far, the impasse in Washington has not hurt either business and consumer confidence.

A resurgence in consumer spending accounted for the bulk of the pickup in economic in the second quarter. Consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of the US economy, grew at a 2.8 percent rate. That was an acceleration from the 1.9 percent pace logged in the first quarter.

But with wage remaining sluggish despite the labour market being near full employment, there are concerns that consumer spending could slow in the third quarter. Annual wage has struggled to break above 2.5 percent.

Business Spending Boost

Business spending on equipment rose at an 8.2 percent pace in the second quarter, the fastest since the third quarter of 2015. It was the third straight quarterly increase.

Spending on mining exploration, wells and shafts grew at an 116.7 percent rate, slowing from the first-quarter's robust 272.1 percent pace. As a result, investment on nonresidential structures increased at a 4.9 percent pace, moderating from the January-March period's brisk 14.8 percent rate.

Businesses continued to carefully manage their inventories in the second quarter but spent more in some places. Inventory investment was neutral to after slicing off 1.46 percentage points in the first quarter.

added 0.18 percentage point to growth, contributing to output for a second straight quarter.

Housing was a drag on in the last quarter, with investment on home building contracting at a 6.8 percent rate, the worst performance since the third quarter of 2010.

Alongside the second-quarter report, the government published revisions to data going back to 2014, which showed little change in the picture.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 28 2017. 18:45 IST