Fonte/Source, Wall Street Journal,
The U.S. economy’s growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2014 is looking worse than initially thought, balancing out the strong six-month stretch that came before it.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the country, registered an annual growth rate of 2.6%, the Commerce Department said last month, a marked slowdown from earlier in the year.
That figure, based on incomplete data, is deteriorating as more official figures come rolling in. On Tuesday, Commerce released wholesale inventories for December, sparking the latest round of downgrades for GDP growth in the final three months of last year.
Now, it’s looking like GDP came in under 2% to round out the year.
Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers on Tuesday lowered its tracking estimate of fourth-quarter GDP by four-tenths to 1.7%. J.P. Morgan Chase trimmed its estimate to 1.7% from 2%. And Barclays also knocked three-tenths of a percentage point off its estimate, to 2%.
Inventories, which contribute to GDP when they rise, aren’t the only reason. The gap between imports and exports also looks like it came in wider than initially estimated during the fourth quarter, which also would subtract from top-line economic growth.
But a drawdown in company inventories one quarter sometimes spells restocking the next.
“A weaker inventory accumulation in the fourth quarter is a favorable development for first-quarter growth,” J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver said in a note to clients. “We now see less downside risk to our 3.0% real GDP forecast for the first quarter as a result of the wholesale trade report, but still think 3.0% growth may be hard to reach absent some upside surprises and/or favorable revisions to the source data.”