U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006.
Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual pace after the third quarter’s spectacular 5 percent rate, the Commerce Department said in its first fourth-quarter GDP snapshot on Friday.
The slowdown, which follows two back-to-back quarters of bullish growth, is likely to be short-lived given the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices. Most economists believe fundamentals in the United States are strong enough to cushion the blow on growth from weakening overseas economies.
“We look for strong domestic consumption to continue supporting growth momentum in the coming quarters even as investment suffers due to falling oil prices,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York.
Even with the moderation in the fourth quarter, growth remained above the 2.5 percent pace, which is considered to be the economy’s potential. Economists had expected GDP to expand at a 3 percent rate in the fourth quarter.
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