United States GDP Slowed to 2.0% in Q1 2023

The United States GDP grew by an annualized 2.0% for the first quarter of this year according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in its third and final estimate.

US Final GDP data released on Thursday showed an annualized increase in the first quarter of 2023 of 2.0%, revised upwards from the second estimate in May of 1.3%. The higher gain in the third estimate was due to upward revisions to exports and consumer spending, according to the BEA.

The GDP growth of 2% was respectable but reflected a continuing downtrend in US economic activity, as GDP growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2022 was 3.2% and 2.6%, respectively. The main driver of this deceleration in growth is the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate-tightening cycle.

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The BEA noted that the current US Dollar GDP, which does not account for the impact of inflation on the current value of GDP, increased by 6.1% year-on-year, lower than the 6.6% gain in Q4 2022. 

Current dollar personal income increased in the first quarter by $278.0 billion, revised upwards from $251.3 in the second estimate. The increase was primarily due to an increase in wages and government social benefits, according the BEA. This was considerably lower than the fourth-quarter reading of $398.8 billion.

Core PCE prices, which excludes food and energy and is closely watched by the Fed, rose 4.9% in Q4, a shade below the 4.8% gain in the second estimate.

The US economy is slowing down, but the labour market remains surprisingly resilient despite high interest rates. Initial jobless claims, released today, dropped to 239,000, down from 265,000 previously and below the consensus of 264,000. The Fed needs the labour market to cool down before it can wrap up its rate-hike campaign, and we are likely to see rate hikes in July and in September or October.

In the Forex market, the US dollar has gained against all the major currencies in the aftermath of the GDP and unemployment claims reports, on optimism that the Fed will raise interest rates in July. The markets have raised the probability of a 25-basis point hike to 89%, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

The Japanese Yen against the US Dollar fell to a new seven-month low of ¥144.85 and is poised to break below the symbolic 145 line, with speculation growing that Tokyo will intervene in the currency markets as it did late last year.

US stock markets showed little movement at the start of the North American session, but both the  S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq 100 Index ended the day lower.

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