Business

US economic growth at 1.7% in second quarter

  • 31 July 2013
  • From the section Business
US shoppers
The data suggests that US consumer spending is picking up, albeit slowly

The US economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.7% in the second quarter of the year, the Commerce Department has said.

That was a faster pace than expected by economists.

It was also up from the growth rate for the first three months of 2013, which was revised lower to 1.1% from 1.8%.

A slowdown was widely expected due to the impact of federal spending cuts, but also from the continuing weakness in the global economy.

In March, $85bn (£56bn) of public spending was cut as a result of a deal between Democrat and Republican politicians.

But the Commerce Department said that the federal government cut spending by only 1.5% in the April-to-June period, compared with a sharp drop of 8.4% in the first quarter.

The US economy grew by 0.4% in the second quarter compared with the previous three months. That compares to 0.6% growth in the UK in the same period.

The eurozone's GDP figures are released on 14 August. The 18-member region shrank 0.2% in the first quarter - the sixth quarter of decline in a row.

'Recovery'

"We have an upside surprise in the GDP, which speaks volumes for the job recovery that we're putting together," said Andre Bakhos, a market analyst at Lek Securities in New York.

"The recovery in the economy is starting to take root. This will be an interesting development given the fact that we'll have a Fed announcement today."

The Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday to make its latest statement on its massive bond-buying programme to stimulate the economy.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US GDP. Official figures showed that consumers spent less in the second quarter than in the first, with personal consumption expenditure up 1.8%, compared with 2.3% previously.

Revisions

As well as the last set of quarterly figures, the Commerce Department also revised growth figures going back several decades.

It said the US economy now grew by 2.8% in 2012, up from its previous estimate of 2.2%. This may help to explain why growth appeared weak last year but hiring continued to improve.

The government also said that the economy contracted by 4.3% during the recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, better than the previous estimate of a 4.7% drop.

The economy expanded by 8.2% from the middle of 2009 through to the end of last year, which was more than the 7.6% previously suggested.

The latest figures showed a pick up in both imports and exports. Exports rose 5.4% in the second quarter, compared with a drop of 1.3% in the first quarter. Imports jumped 9.5%, compared with an increase of 0.6% in the previous quarter.

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