Last updateThu, 16 May 2019 4pm


U.S. GDP Beats Expectations, Up 3.2% in First Quarter

U.S. GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Department of Commerce. In the fourth quarter of 2018, GDP increased 2.2%. The increase reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, exports, state & local government spending and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased. These contributions were partly offset by a decrease in residential investment.

Labor Market Remains Tight, Economy Continues to Grow

Economic activity in the U.S. expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April, according to the Federal Reserve. While most Districts reported that growth continued at a similar pace as the previous report, a few Districts reported some strengthening. There was little change in the outlook among contacts in reporting Districts, with those expecting slight-to-modest growth in the months ahead.

Reports on manufacturing activity were favorable, although contacts in many Districts noted trade-related uncertainty.

Leading Economic Indicators Up Slightly in March

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4% in March to 111.9, following a 0.1% increase in February, and no change in January. In March the LEI for the U.S. recorded its largest monthly increase since September of last year. However, its six-month growth has continued to slow in the past several months.

In the six-month period ending March 2019, the leading economic index increased 0.4% (about a 0.7% annual rate), much slower than the growth of 2.8% (about a 5.6% annual rate) during the previous six months.

Manufacturing Production Stable in March

Industrial production edged down 0.1% in March after edging up 0.1% in February; for the first quarter as a whole, the index slipped 0.3% at an annual rate. Manufacturing production was unchanged in March after declining in both January and February. Manufacturing output moved down at an annual rate of 1.1% in the first quarter. The output of durables edged down in March.

IMF Expects Global Growth to Slow in 2019

The International Monetary Fund expects global growth to slow from 3.6% in 2018 to 3.3% in 2019, according to its latest World Economic Outlook.

After strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in the second half of last year, reflecting a confluence of factors affecting major economies. After peaking at close to 4% in 2017, global growth remained strong, at 3.8% in the first half of 2018, but dropped to 3.2% in the second half of the year.

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