3.2% Q4 GDP Growth Exceeds Expectations

Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.2% for the fourth quarter of 2013, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

This advance estimate number roughly represents the economic growth in the U.S. from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, GDP grew at a rate of 4.1%. Analysts expected a downturn, but their estimate of 3% growth proved slightly too conservative. 

With estimated fourth-quarter numbers in, overall 2013 GDP growth clocked in at 1.9%, well below 2012's 2.8% recovery growth. 

According to the report, the quarter's absolute GDP growth came primarily from increases in personal spending, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and local and state government spending. Decreases in federal government spending and residential fixed investment, as well as an increase in imports (which weigh negatively on GDP) kept growth in check for the three-month period. 

This latest report also publishes inflation numbers via the GDP Price Index. Inflation increased at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.3%, 0.8 points below third-quarter numbers but 0.1 points above analyst estimates. The Federal Reserve's long-term inflation target is 2%. 

This advance report is based on incomplete data; the second of three fourth-quarter GDP estimates will be released on Feb. 28. 

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