The nation’s economy is on pause for the moment, with figures for the first quarter showing a scant 0.7% rise in the U.S. gross domestic product. That was well shy of the growth forecast and just a third of the increase logged in last year’s final three months.
You’re 25 and feeling alive. You’re settling into life after university, paying off your debts and slowly figuring how to “adult”. But with the responsibility of bills, rent, and even keeping up social appearances, prioritizing financial planning is something far too often pushed to the side.
There have been a few small bumps in the road recently, with the latest month’s figures showing some early spring volume slippage at the carmakers, eased output in manufacturing, and softness in housing starts, but surprising strength in home sales.
The industrial sector was continuing to hold its own as we reached the second quarter, with recent data affirming that manufacturing output was up 0.5% in February for a second month in a row. In all, this was the sixth-consecutive monthly gain for industrial production.
It is still thumbs up on the jobs front, with the nation’s employment rolls increasing by a better-than-expected 235,000 in February. That put the average monthly gain at 209,000 for the past quarter and at 196,000 for the latest 12 months.
It is all coming together on the economic front, following an underwhelming 2016. True, the economy did strengthen in the second half of last year. But much of that pickup stemmed from a surge in exports in the third quarter, which was to be reversed in the final period. Now, the upturn is more uniform and likely sustainable.
The nation’s economy is clearly holding its own as we move through the early weeks of 2017. In fact, in certain respects, things look better now than they did three months ago. To be sure, gross domestic product growth did slow from the third to the fourth quarter, with respective increases of 3.5% and 1.9%.
Wow! The Dow Industrials made a "Tom Brady" move late yesterday. What looked like an all but certain loss turned into a gain in the last minute of play, sending the Dow to its first 11 consecutive-day gain in 30 years. This rally occurred on one of the warmest Fridays that ever hit the East Coast, sending many outside to work and away from their desks.
What a difference a year makes. For example, 12 months ago, the economy was under pressure from softening oil and commodity markets and consequent declines in business capital investment. Now, as the first quarter winds down, we see manufacturing, non-manufacturing, employment, and consumer spending all holding up well.
A couple of weeks ago, a March 15 Fed rate hike was "dead in the water." But 2 strong inflation reports, plus a strong equity market, has put a March increase back on the table. Although the doves still have the upper hand now, the hawks are making a run.