U.S. economy surprises with strong 3.3% growth in last quarter

FILE PHOTO: Shopping during the holiday season in New York WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s economy grew at an unexpectedly brisk 3.3% annual pace from October through December as Americans showed a continued willingness to spend freely despite high interest rates and price levels that have frustrated many households. READ MORE: U.S. adults across racial groups agree the economy is a top priority, AP-NORC and AAPI Data polls show Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department said the gross domestic product — the economy’s total output of goods and services — decelerated from its sizzling 4.9% growth rate the previous quarter. But the latest figures still reflected the surprising durability of the world’s largest economy, marking the sixth straight quarter in which GDP has grown at an annual pace of 2% or more. Consumers fueled much of last quarter’s expansion. For all of 2023, the economy grew 2.5%, up from 1.9% in 2022. The state of the economy is sure to weigh on people’s minds ahead of the November elections. After an extended period of gloom, Americans are starting to feel somewhat better about inflation and the economy — a trend that could sustain consumer spending, fuel economic growth and potentially affect voters’ decisions. A measure of consumer sentiment by the University of Michigan, for example, has jumped in the past two months by the most since 1991. There is growing optimism that the Federal Reserve is on track to deliver a rare “soft landing” — raising borrowing rates enough to cool growth, hiring and inflation yet not so much as to send the economy into a tailspin. Inflation touched a four-decade high in 2022 but has since edged steadily lower without the painful layoffs that most economists had thought would be necessary to slow the acceleration of prices. The […]

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