The U.S. economy is destined for a modest year of growth, according to economic experts and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The assessment follows two market-moving events today: A Commerce Department report revising fourth-quarter GDP growth and a House Committee on Financial Services hearing featuring a testimony by the Fed chief.
The Commerce report, which showed that the economy grew at a 3 percent rate at the end of 2011 rather than 2.8 percent, was the genuine surprise today. Analysts polled by Bloomberg earlier in the month weren't expecting an increase, and in many cases, foreshadowed a downward revision. A string of positive economic developments drove the re-write, including an acceleration in personal consumption spending (up 2.1 percent), exports (up 4.3 percent), and manufacturing. Additionally, growth in disposable income was revised upward to 1.4 percent from 0.8 percent.
Taken together, the indicators have caused analysts to "tamper expectations of a sharp pullback in growth this quarter," reports Reuters. The reason we're not seeing expectations of strong growth, however, is because of other signs of lagging, such as real final sales of domestic product, the GDP minus inventory addtions, which increases a mere 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter as opposed to a 3.2 percent increase in the previous quarter. "Growth is still on the right path, but we are not going to see any acceleration. Income was revised up so it removed one of the headwinds to growth in the beginning of the year," Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas, tells Reuters.