The second-quarter did show a big bounce after all, up at a revised annualized growth rate of 3.7 percent. The initial estimate for second-quarter GDP was 2.3 percent. This report points to better-than-expected momentum going into the current quarter.
Consumer demand was strong with personal consumption expenditures at a 3.1 percent rate led by an 8.2 percent rate for durables, a gain that was tied to vehicle spending. Residential investment was very strong, at plus 7.8 percent, as was nonresidential fixed investment which, boosted by an upward revision to structures, came in at plus 3.2 percent. Inventories contributed to second-quarter growth as did improvement in net exports. Final demand proved very solid, at plus 3.5 percent. The GDP price index, unlike many other price readings, is showing some pressure, at 2.1 percent and just above the Fed’s general policy goal.
The economy’s acceleration is now much more respectable from the first quarter when growth, at only 0.6 percent, was depressed by heavy weather and special factors. Splitting the difference, first-half growth came in a bit over 2 percent which, as it turns out, is right in line with the similar performance of 2014 when first-quarter growth, again depressed by severe weather, fell 2.1 percent followed by a 4.6 percent surge in the second quarter. Growth in the third quarter last year was 4.3 percent which would be a very good performance for this third quarter.
The impact of today’s report on Fed policy for September’s FOMC is likely to be minimal. Focus at the upcoming meeting will be on the state of the global financial markets and, very importantly, the strength of next week’s employment report for August.