Revised second-quarter figures released yesterday by the U.S. Commerce Dept. show a major improvement in the economy over the first quarter. Real GDP in the second quarter increased at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent, more than double the first-quarter GDP growth rate of 1.1 percent.
Analysts generally credit the quarterly gains to greater business investment, more exports and fewer imports, improved corporate profitability, higher real personal consumption expenditures, and lower government spending at all levels. The figures inspire confidence that the second half could be robust, but are also of concern to investors because a strengthening economy would reduce the Fed’s bond-buying stimulus, currently at $85 billion per month.
Exports of goods and services increased 8.6 percent in the second quarter, following a decline of 1.3 percent in the first. Imports of goods and services rose a sizable 7 percent, compared with a first-quarter gain of only 0.6 percent.
The change in real private inventories added 0.59 percentage points to second-quarter GDP, down from the 0.93-percentage-point change it made to first quarter results. Nevertheless, business increased inventories by $62.6 billion in the second quarter, compared with growth of $42.2 billion in the first quarter.
Corporate profits, meanwhile, increased $78.3 billion in the second quarter, compared with a decrease of $26.6 billion in the previous quarter.
Real personal consumption expenditures increased 1.8 percent in the second quarter, less than the 2.3 percent gain in the first. Durable goods expenditures were up 6.1 percent last quarter, slightly better than the 5.8 percent jump in the first quarter. Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less the change in private inventories) rose 1.9 percent in the second quarter, versus a 0.2 percent gain in the first.
Real gross national product (goods, services, and property produced or supplied by U.S. residents) increased 3 percent in the second quarter, a significant jump from the 0.6 percent rise in the first quarter. Current-dollar GDP was up 3.2 percent, or $132.6 billion, in the second quarter compared with a 2.8 percent increase, or $115 billion in the first quarter. GDP at the end of the second quarter is almost $16.668 trillion.
A third revision of the figures is due Sept. 26.