GDP Revised Higher

The economy expanded at a faster pace than expected in the final fourth quarter reading thanks to gains in consumer and government spending

Fourth-quarter real gross domestic product ( GDP) growth was revised to 1.7% from a preliminary 1.4% reading and an initial 0.2% reading. The consensus forecast was a 1.5% increase. The upward revision came from smaller declines in business fixed investment and imports, and slightly less inventory run-off.

The data was also boosted by yet another surprise in consumer spending. Real consumption is now reported to have grown at a 6.1% rate in the fourth quarter, versus 6.0% in the previous report and 5.4% initially.

The GDP price index was unrevised at a 0.1% decline. Business fixed investment was down 11.4%, slightly less than the 13.1% decline previously reported. Exports were revised to a 10.9% drop.

In all of 2001, the economy grew at a 1.2% rate. The third quarter of 2001 showed the only decline in GDP since the recession in 1991.

The picture for the real economy continues to look stronger. S&P now expects 5% growth in the first quarter, stronger than Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's recent remarks would suggest. No Fed action is likely until late summer.

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