GDP report: Economic growth revised sharply lower

chart_gdp_022511.top.gif By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Budget cuts by state and local governments hurt the economy more than originally thought, according to a government release Friday.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, was revised lower to an annual growth rate of 2.8% in the three months ending in December. The initial reading had been for a 3.2% growth rate in the period.

That's a surprising dip, given that economists were expecting the rate to be revised upward to 3.3%.

Lower state and local government spending was the main drag, falling 2.4% during the quarter, compared to a 0.9% drop originally reported.

Consumer spending was also weaker than initially reported, and was revised down to a 4.1% growth rate, from 4.4%.

The lower GDP number isn't a reason to be alarmed, economists say.

"It's kind of ancient history, given we're now two-thirds into the first quarter," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist with Capital Economics. "If anything, we still expect growth to be stronger in the first quarter."

Despite its weaker points, the report still contained a robust reading on domestic demand, and that's encouraging, said David Resler, chief economist with Nomura Securities.

Real final sales of domestic product grew at a rate of 6.7% during the quarter. While that's slightly lower than the 7.1% previously estimated, it's still strong, especially given that the rate stood at a mere 0.9% in the third quarter.

"It's a sign to me that demand has turned a corner in the fourth quarter," Resler said. "The private sector seems to be on a roll here, and we're seeing evidence of that through most other economic indicators."

The government calculates GDP as a measure of goods and services produced in the United States. The number is backward looking and is often revised multiple times. This is the second reading for the fourth quarter. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,416.85 225.48 1.31%
Nasdaq 4,683.41 45.41 0.98%
S&P 500 2,021.25 19.09 0.95%
Treasuries 1.75 0.03 1.57%
Data as of 7:40am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Pfizer Inc 31.83 -0.12 -0.38%
Yahoo! Inc 43.73 -3.06 -6.59%
Altria Group Inc 54.39 0.38 0.70%
Baxter International... 71.38 1.22 1.74%
International Paper ... 53.51 0.35 0.66%
Data as of Jan 29

Sections

Shake Shack is a huge success in New York. But will the 'fine casual' burger and fries joint be a big hit with investors too? It looks like Wall Street has worked up its appetite for the Shake Shack IPO. More

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

Google reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that rose from a year ago, but the company fell short of Wall Street's expectations. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

The IRS said it has carried out thousands of audits of offshore schemes and pursued criminal charges that have resulted in "billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions." And it won't stop there. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.