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US Economy Grows Faster Than First Thought

  • Jim Randle

The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than first thought at the end of last year, although growth was still disappointingly slow.

Friday's report from the Commerce Department says 2015's fourth quarter saw gross domestic product expand at a 1 percent annual rate. Experts initially put the GDP growth rate a bit slower than that, and this estimate is a routine revision based on more complete data. For all of 2015, the U.S. economy expanded by 2.4 percent.

A White House economic adviser says growth faltered late last year because falling oil prices cut investments in that sector and global demand for U.S. exports slowed.

Gus Faucher of PNC Financial Services says the strong U.S. dollar also made exports from the U.S. more expensive.

"That made overseas economies a little less willing to buy them,” says Faucher.

The director of Moody’s Analytics, Ryan Sweet, says, “Income growth is picking up in the U.S., the job market is booming by almost every metric, and I think as long as the job market continues to improve, I think our economy will be able to weather the tightening in financial markets since the beginning of the year.”

Many analysts say growth should speed up later this year as consumers benefit from an improving job market and lower gasoline costs.
Separate economic reports Friday said U.S. consumer spending rose in January by the most in eight months. Economists watch spending closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.

Other new data show that the annual U.S. inflation rate moved closer to the 2 percent rate that experts at the U.S. central bank say would help growth.

President Obama says his presidency has seen over 14 million new jobs created since the 2008 financial crisis. At a speech in Florida he said critics who say the economy is in trouble are wrong.

"By almost every economic measure we are significantly better off, and Florida is significantly better off," he said. "Jacksonville is a whole lot better off!”

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