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GDP — What you need to know in markets on Friday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Stocks rallied Thursday fueled by a 9% gain in shares of Facebook (FB) after the social network beat earnings expectations after the market close on Wednesday.

And Friday could be a repeat.

After the market close on Thursday, Amazon (AMZN) crushed earnings expectations and gave guidance that topped estimates, sending shares of the e-commerce giant to an all-time high after hours.

Shares of Amazon were up as much as 7% on Thursday after earnings with this rally bringing the company’s market cap to within $50 billion of Apple (AAPL), the world’s largest company by market cap. And in addition to Amazon’s rally, shares of chipmaker Intel (INTC) were also up better than 7% in after hours trade following earnings that impressed.

Microsoft (MSFT), however, was little-changed following its earnings report on Thursday while Starbucks (SBUX) shares were trading lower following the company’s earnings report.

And while the earnings flow will slow down some on Friday, the morning will bring investors the week’s biggest economic report — the first estimate of first quarter GDP.

The economy is expected to have grown at an annualized rate of 2% in the first quarter, according to estimates from Bloomberg. This would be a decrease from the 2.9% rate of growth seen at the end of 2017 and below the more than 3% economic growth the Trump administration has touted would follow from its tax cuts passed late last year.

President Donald Trump might be disappointed by economic growth data out Friday morning. This disappointment, however, might just be temporary as economists expect economic growth to rebound in the second half of this year. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Most disappointing in this report is likely to be the personal consumption numbers, which should see consumption rise at a rate of just 1.1% in the first quarter. Consumption accounts for about 70% of overall GDP growth. This would also mark a deceleration from the 4% rate of consumption seen at the end of 2017, which came before the tax cuts had been passed.

Economists have noted, however, that in recent years first quarter GDP has shown an odd tendency to be below the trend seen over the balance of the year, indicating a potential measurement problem with the BEA’s seasonal adjustments.

Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note to clients on Thursday that you should add about 0.9% to Friday’s GDP number to get an estimate that is closer to the economy’s actual pace of growth to start the year.

Additionally, Shepherdson sees the forecasted consumption figures, which will likely be singled out by investors as notably poor, as simply reflecting a reversion from the strong data seen in the fourth quarter. “It makes no sense to be worried about the slowing in first quarter consumption,” Shepherdson writes, “just as it made no sense to proclaim the fourth quarter acceleration as the start of a sustainable boom.”

Economists at Wells Fargo led by Sam Bullard said in a note ahead of the report that while they expect Friday’s GDP growth rate to hit just 1.3%, “underlying economic fundamentals remain solid, and support our outlook for U.S. real GDP to rebound for the remainder of the year at a 3% annualized growth rate.”

Adjust your narratives accordingly.

Elsewhere on the earnings schedule, investors will also get a preliminary reading on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan in the morning, as well as the employment cost index for the first quarter, a more comprehensive measure of employee compensation that the average hourly earnings released alongside the monthly jobs report.

And on the earnings side, notable results expected in the morning will come the energy sector with Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and Phillips 66 (PSX) set to report earnings, as well as Charter (CHTR) and Colgate Palmolive (CL).

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

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