Gross domestic product rose at a 0.4 percent annual rate, up from a 0.1 percent prior estimate and following a 3.1 percent pace in the third quarter, revised Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The fourth-quarter slowdown was due to the biggest slump in military spending since 1972 and a reduction in the rate of inventory building.
The world’s largest economy is projected to accelerate in the first quarter as companies invest in new equipment and rebuild depleted stockpiles, while consumers keep spending in the face of higher taxes. The pace of growth and efforts to drive down joblessness help explain why Federal Reserve policy makers are sticking to asset-purchase plans.
Enough with the rosy pictures. Bring on the pessimism.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to minus 34.4 in the week ended March from minus 33.9 as Americans’ views of the economy deteriorated to the lowest point since early February. Applications for unemployment insurance benefits rose by 16,000 to 357,000 last week, the Labor Department said.
The number of people out of work increased a seasonally adjusted 13,000 to 2.94 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. Economists had predicted a decline of 2,000, according to the median of 24 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The adjusted jobless rate held at 6.9 percent, slightly above a two-decade low of 6.8 percent.
“The harsh and long winter hurt Germany’s labor market, but the increase in unemployment by 13,000 in March will probably remain a temporary blip,” said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “The job market may not be quite as buoyant as in the last couple of years but it remains very healthy.”
Economy in U.S. Grew at Revised 0.4% Pace in Fourth Quarter [Bloomberg]
Consumer Confidence Cools as U.S. Jobless Claims Rise [Bloomberg]
German Unemployment Unexpectedly Rises Amid Euro Crisis [Bloomberg]
German Unemployment, Retail Sales Rise [Dow Jones via Nasdaq]