U.S. economic growth slowed in the second quarter of 2012, although the pace of growth during the quarter still exceeded economist estimates.
According to figures released by the Commerce Department on Friday, U.S. gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter.
While that marks a slowdown from the 2 percent growth posted for the first quarter, economists had forecast the pace of GDP growth to slow to 1.2 percent.
Additionally, the growth seen in the first quarter was upwardly revised from the 1.9 percent growth previously reported.
Paul Dales, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said, "The 1.5% annualized rise in U.S. GDP in Q2, and some upward revisions to previous years' data, support our view that the Fed is unlikely to launch QE3 at next week's policy meeting."
The Commerce Department said the slowdown in the pace of growth compared to the previous quarter reflected decelerations in consumer spending, residential fixed investment and nonresidential fixed investment as well as an acceleration in imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP.
Partially offsetting those elements were an upturn in private inventory investment, a smaller decrease in federal government spending, and an acceleration in exports.
Despite the fact that the pace of consumer spending growth slowed compared to the first quarter levels, it remained a large contributor to the overall increase in GDP for the second quarter.
However, the growth in consumer spending along with increases in exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment were partly offset by lower state and local government spending and an increase in imports.
Consumer spending, formally known as personal consumer expenditures, increased by 1.5 percent in the second quarter compared to the 2.5 percent growth seen in the first quarter.
The strong 11.5 percent increase in consumer spending on durable goods in the first quarter was partly offset in the second, falling by 1 percent. However, spending on on-durable goods remained relatively level, rising 1.5 percent in Q2 compared to a 1.6 percent increase in Q1.
Real exports of goods and services also proved a source for the second quarter economic growth, rising 5.3 percent after climbing by 4.4 percent in the first quarter.
Imports also increased notably, jumping 6 percent in Q2 compared to a 3.1 percent increase in the first quarter.
Federal government spending, which shrank a dramatic 4.2 percent in the first quarter, decreased by a much smaller 0.4 percent in the second. State and local government spending, however, continued to decrease, falling by 2.1 percent in the second quarter compared to a drop of 2.2 percent in the first.
Motor vehicle output, which added 0.72 percentage points to the GDP growth in the first quarter, remained a net positive but added a much smaller 0.13 percentage points to the GDP growth in the second quarter.
The price index for gross domestic purchases, a measure of inflationary pressures, increased by 0.7 percent in the second quarter, notably slower than the 2.5 percent increase posted in Q1.
Excluding food and energy prices, the "core" price index for gross domestic purchases was up 1.4 percent in the second quarter, down from an increase of 2.4 percent in the first.
Consumer prices rose by 0.7 percent in the second quarter following a 2.5 percent increase in the first quarter, while core consumer prices rose by 1.8 percent in the second after climbing by 2.2 percent in the first.
The Commerce Department cautioned that the second quarter figures are advance estimates and are expected to be revised several times in the coming months.
by RTT Staff Writer
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