The major indexes were little changed despite the Commerce Department reporting on Thursday that gross domestic product rose 2.6 percent during the fourth quarter, which bested expectations of 2.2 percent by a Dow Jones survey of economists.
The higher GDP comes after a 3.4 percent rise in the third quarter. A tumultuous fourth quarter for U.S. equities may have caused economists to believe that a lesser GDP figure would result.
A 2.8 percent rise in consumer spending helped to boost the better-than-expected GDP. Other factors included increased nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending.
As of 11:00 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was just down under 60 points, the S&P 500 fell 0.28 percent and the Nasdaq Composite slid 0.40 percent.
“The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected decelerations in private inventory investment, PCE, and federal government spending and a downturn in state and local government spending,” the Bureau of Economic Aanalysis wrote in a statement. “These movements were partly offset by an upturn in exports and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased less in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter.”
U.S.-China Trade Talk Progress
The higher GDP number was backed by National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that ongoing negotiations with China are making “fantastic” progress. During the interview, Kudlow said that the world’s second largest economy was willing to make key changes regarding the theft of intellectual property, which has been a major point of contention during the trade talks.
“Last week was fantastic,” Kudlow told CNBC. ” “We’re making great headway on nontariff barriers and tariffs regarding various commodities such as soybeans and energy and beef. We have mechanisms with regard to enforcement, which is — I think — unparalleled.”
“The progress has been terrific,” Kudlow added. But “we have to hear from the Chinese side. We have to hear from President Xi Jinping, of course. I think we’re headed for a remarkable, historic deal.”
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