U.S. growth in fourth quarter hits 3.2 percent

Jan. 30, 2014 at 10:43 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The figure is the first of three estimates that are revised as more data become available.

For the October through December period, growth of the total output of the U.S. economy was in line with expectations, coming in at less than third quarter growth of 4.1 percent.

The growth rate in the second half of the year "with close to 200,000 new jobs per month is enough to perk up sentiment and lead consumers to the malls," said Kathy Bostjancic, Director for Microeconomic Analysis at the Conference Board.

"The ingredients seem to be in place for the economy to remain on a strong growth path and not be interrupted by fiscal squabbling at the federal level," she said, calling the growth rate for the second half of the year, "a relatively pleasant change for the better."

The Commerce Department said consumer spending in the quarter rose at a rate of 3.3 percent, a gain from the previous quarter when spending rose 2 percent.

Spending on long-lasting goods -- mostly cars and large appliances -- rose 5.9 percent compared with a gain of 2 percent in the third quarter.

Spending on non-durable goods rose 4.4 percent after rising 2.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Investment in commercial fixed assets rose, but at a slower pace than the previous three months, climbing 3.8 percent compared to 4.8 percent. Spending on commercial structures, concurrently, plunged from a 13.4 percent growth rate in the third quarter to minus 1.2 percent in the fourth.

Exports of goods and services adjusted for inflation rose 11.4 percent after a gain of 3.9 percent in the third quarter.

The department said personal income rose 2 percent in the quarter, climbing by $69.4 billion. Disposable income climbed 1.5 percent or by $45.7 billion. When adjusted for inflation, however, disposable income rose just 0.8 percent after a gain of 3 percent in the third quarter.

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