The advance estimate for fourth-quarter U.S. GDP is out.
The economy contracted 0.1 percent in Q4 versus economists' consensus expectations of a 1.1 percent expansion.
Personal consumption growth came in at 2.2 percent – slightly higher than consensus estimates of 2.1 percent – but was driven largely by a 13.9 percent advance in the consumption of durable goods.
Government spending was the largest driver of the economic contraction in the fourth quarter, subtracting 1.33 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth and falling 6.6 percent. Federal spending fell 15.0 percent, led by a 22.2 percent drop in defense spending. Federal spending on nondefense items was actually up 1.4 percent. State and local spending fell 0.7 percent.
The drawdown in private inventories was the second culprit behind the contraction, subtracting 1.27 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth after adding 0.73 percentage points to Q3 GDP growth.
However, fixed business investment surged 9.7 percent after advancing only 0.9 percent in Q3. The investment surge added 1.18 percentage points to Q4 GDP growth.
While personal consumption expenditures were the biggest positive contributor to Q4 GDP growth, adding 1.53 percentage points, they were driven largely by the spike in consumption of durable goods, up 13.9 percent from Q3. Consumption of nondurable goods was only up 0.4 percent while consumption of services was up 0.9 percent.
Exports fell 5.7 percent while imports retreated 3.2 percent. Net trade subtracted 0.81 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth.
The GDP Price Index came in at 0.6 percent – below expectations – and c ore PCE came in at 0.9 percent, right in line with expectations.
Below are highlights from the release:
Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 percent.
The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 4 and the "Comparisons of Revisions to GDP" on page 5). The "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on February 28, 2013.
The decrease in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from private inventory investment, federal government spending, and exports that were partly offset by positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.
The downturn in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected downturns in private inventory investment, in federal government spending, in exports, and in state and local government spending that were partly offset by an upturn in nonresidential fixed investment, a larger decrease in imports, and an acceleration in PCE.
Final sales of computers added 0.15 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.11 percentage point to the third-quarter change. Motor vehicle output added 0.04 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.25 percentage point from the third-quarter change.
ORIGINAL: Minutes away from the first reading of U.S. fourth-quarter GDP, due out at 8:30 AM ET.
Economists estimate that the economy expanded 1.1 percent in Q4, down from 3.1 percent in Q3. The lower print is expected to be driven by a slower build in private inventories and decreased government spending.
Personal consumption growth, however, is estimated to have risen to 2.1 percent in Q4 from 1.6 percent in Q3.
The GDP Price Index is expected to fall to 1.5 percent from 2.7 percent, and core PCE is expected to moderate to 0.9 percent from 1.1 percent.
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