The economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted annualised rate (saar) of 2.2% in the first quarter, according to the advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on 27 April. The reading was below both the 3.0% expansion recorded in the previous quarter as well as market expectations, which had anticipated the economy would grow 2.5%. The deceleration over the previous quarter was caused by softer growth in fixed investment, as well as by a lower stockpiling of inventories. Fixed investment grew at a 1.4% annualised rate, down from the 4.3% expansion recorded in the final quarter of 2011, mainly due to a decline in non-residential fixed investment (Q4 2011: +2.8% saar; Q1 2012: -2.1% saar). In addition, inventories added only 0.6 percentage points to overall growth, well down from the 1.9 percentage points added in Q4 2011. On a positive note, growth in private consumption stepped up to 2.9% in the first quarter, up from the 2.1% expansion observed in Q4 2011, and marking the fastest pace recorded in over a year. Finally, government spending continued to contract, declining at a 3.0% annualised rate (Q4 2011: -4.4% saar) On the external front, exports accelerated from a 4.3% expansion in the fourth quarter to a 5.4% rise in Q1. Imports improved at a similar pace, increasing 4.3% (Q4 2011: +3.8% saar). As a result, the external sector's net contribution to overall growth remained virtually unchanged from minus 0.1 percentage points in the fourth quarter to 0.0 percentage points in the first.
United States GDP
GDP lower than expected in Q1
April 27, 2012
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Note: Quarter-on-quarter annualized changes and annual variation of seasonally adjusted GDP in %.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis and FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast.
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