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If These Numbers Are Accurate, the U.S. Economy Just Surprised A Lot of People


Read between the lines.

Real gross domestic product (GDP), the total output of goods and services in the United States, increased at an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced Thursday .

Thursday’s figure, which represents the second revision for the third quarter, is impressive considering earlier estimates placed the number between 2.8 and 3.1 percent.

With the latest estimates for gross domestic product, “the increase in private inventory investment was larger than previously estimated,” the bureau reported.

Apparently much larger: From 0.41 percent in the second quarter to 0.83 percent in the first revision of the third quarter, to 1.68 percent in Thursday's revision.

But here's something to watch: Personal consumption, which makes up roughly 70 percent of gross domestic product, declined from 1.24 percent in the second quarter to 1.04 percent in the first revision of the third quarter, to 0.96 percent in Thursday's report, as Zero Hedge notes.

So while the second revision of third quarter GDP beat out initial estimates, it’s probably too early to break out the champagne.

Real gross domestic product in the third quarter increased largely because of “positive contributions” from private inventory investment, personal consumption expenditures, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federal government spending, the bureau reported.

Durable goods are up by 7.7 percent, compared with an increase of 6.2 percent. Nondurable goods are up 2.4 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent. Services, however, remained unchanged in the third quarter (that figure was about 1.2 percent in the second quarter).

Here’s GDP broken down by its components:

Image source: Zero Hedge

Meanwhile, profits from “current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment)” increased $38.3 billion in the third quarter, compared with the second quarter's increase of $66.8 billion, the bureau reported.

“Taxes on corporate income decreased $4.8 billion, in contrast to an increase of $10.0 billion. Profits after tax,” it adds, “increased $43.0 billion, compared with an increase of $56.9 billion.”

BOTTOM LINE: Although the latest data on GDP suggests the economy has potential to grow at a steady clip come first quarter of 2014, it would be wise to stay alert simply because of the decline in personal consumption.

Markets have done their best to respond to Thursday’s GDP and initial claims reports:


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter


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