Fourth Quarter GDP Growth Beats Expectations

February 28, 2019

GDP grew by 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, spurred on by an unexpected boost in business spending. Economists had been expecting growth of 2.3 percent. While the data for durable goods released last week suggested that business spending had waned last quarter, last quarter saw strong increases in equipment spending and intellectual property.

The average GDP growth for 2018 was 2.9 percent, while fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter growth for the year was 3.1 percent. Depending on which measure you use, GDP growth is either close to or slightly above the White House’s 3 percent goal, but economists expect that the first quarter of 2019 will see much slower growth. The final reading for fourth-quarter GDP will be released in late March, and could be revised either way.

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