Economy grew just 1.9 percent in fourth quarter

Tracy FergusonJan 28, 2017

The year-on-year expansion was measured at 2.2%, the ONS said, again stronger than the 2.1% print forecast by economists.

"Looking forward, we do anticipate a slowdown in economic growth, principally because we see the post-referendum fall in the pound pushing up on import prices, in turn raising the CPI inflation rate to more than 3% later this year".

However, in a separate report, the Commerce Department said USA businesses ramped up their investment in industrial machinery, semiconductors and other big-ticket items in December, lifting demand for factory goods.

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.9% in the fourth quarter, according to the advanced estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Strong consumer spending helped the United Kingdom grow by a better-than-expected 0.6% in the final quarter of previous year and by 2% for the whole of 2016. The dollar's strength is to blame, again, in line with Trump's earlier assessments regarding the "too strong" dollar hurting the U.S. economy.

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That compares unfavorably to 2.6 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2014.

Despite the near-unanimous expectations among economists and commentators that 2017 will be tougher than 2016, and that Brexit will dominate to the downside throughout the year, there were those who remained optimistic about growth prospects.

Widening trade deficits sliced off 1.7% from GDP growth in the 4Q after adding 0.85% in the 3Q.

President Donald Trump has set a goal of doubling growth to 4 percent in coming years through an ambitious stimulus program featuring tax cuts, deregulation and higher infrastructure spending. Equipment spending increased 3.1% after declining for four quarters.

But Ian Kernohan, an economist at investment firm Royal London Asset Management, said: 'Far from plunging into recession after the vote to leave, the United Kingdom was actually the fastest growing G7 economy'.

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Against the backdrop of fairly optimistic Q3 growth figures, released immediately prior to the last year's elections, the reported deterioration in United States foreign trade and slow domestic investment in Q4 have revealed the lingering structural deficiencies in the U.S. economy. Inventories were also a bright spot, contributing 1.0% of the growth.

"The good news was that both business investment spending and housing investment are showing signs of life, he said in a research note".

The breakout third quarter marked a two-year high and came after nine months of anemic gains of about 1% that were largely as a byproduct of meager business investment and stockpiling.

The British economy grew at the fastest pace against any of its G7 peers in 2016, despite the second half of the year passing under the shadow of Brexit. The Fed's preferred price gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index, rose an annualized 2.2% in the fourth quarter.

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