20160328 US economic growth revised upward

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to official figures.

The US Commerce Department revised its fourth quarter GDP to upward from an initial estimate of 0.7%.

Overall, the US economy is estimated to have grown at a rate of 2.4% for all of 2015.

One reason for the revised figure was greater consumer spending than officials initially thought, boosted by an improving labour market.

Analysts had expected the fourth quarter growth rate to remain unchanged from the last estimate of 1%.

“It’s especially good that we saw a boost in consumption, however we are only talking about 1.4% growth, which is still anaemic compared to the 3.5% we would like to see,” said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America.

“The economy is still running in low gear,” he said.

Increased employment has helped to slowly boost wages and housing prices, while low oil prices have increased discretionary spending by US households.

The stronger growth rate could increase the chances of an interest rate hike when the Federal Reserve meets in April. The central bank left rates unchanged at its meeting in March, saying the slowing global economy raised risks for the US market.

US corporate profits dipped 11.5% for the fourth quarter compared to the same October through December period in the previous year.

Companies were hurt by low oil prices, with some industrial and petroleum linked companies forced to cut their workforces or file for bankruptcy.