U.S. economic growth accelerated by more than expected in the first quarter on a big boost from inventories and trade that offset a slowdown in consumer spending, bolstering the expansion ahead of a major milestone.
Gross domestic product expanded at a 3.2 percent annualized rate in the January-March period, according to Commerce Department data Friday that topped all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey calling for 2.3 percent growth. That followed a 2.2 percent advance in the prior three months.
But underlying demand was weaker than the headline number indicated. Consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, rose a slightly-above-forecast 1.2 percent, while business investment cooled. A Federal Reserve-preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, slowed to 1.3 percent, well below policy makers' 2 percent objective.
The first acceleration in GDP since mid-2018 reflected the largest combined boost since 2013 for two typically volatile components -- inventories and trade -- that could weigh on the economy later in the year. While steady wage gains and the Fed's forbearance on interest-rate hikes will help make the expansion the nation's longest on record in July, the fading impact of tax cuts and a global slowdown mean President Donald Trump's goal of sustained 3 percent growth will still be difficult to reach.
Source : Bloomberg