US economic growth accelerated in the third quarter
The US economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter of 2023, with the Gross Domestic Product increasing at an annualized rate of 5.2%, revised up from the initially reported 4.9% and beating 5.0% forecast This growth rate was the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2021.
However, there are indications that economic momentum has slowed since then. The main factor contributing to the slowdown was higher borrowing costs, which affected hiring and spending.
The upward revision in growth for the third quarter was attributed to increased business investment, state and local government spending, and higher residential investment. Private inventory investment also contributed to the positive revision.
Consumer spending, a significant driver of the U.S. economy, was revised lower but still remained at a solid 3.6% rate. However, there are concerns about a significant cooling of consumer spending at the beginning of the fourth quarter, signaled by a decline in retail sales in October.
The labor market showed signs of easing, with job growth slowing and the unemployment rate rising to nearly a two-year high of 3.9%. These factors may be contributing to the overall slowdown in economic activity.
Slowing demand has led to speculation that the Federal Reserve might be done raising interest rates, and there are even anticipations in financial markets of a potential rate cut in mid-2024, after the US Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 525 basis points to the current range of 5.25% to 5.50% since March 2022
The market’s expectation of a potential rate cut reflects a belief that the Federal Reserve may respond to the slowing economic conditions by adjusting its monetary policy.
Overall, this information paints a picture of a US economy that experienced robust growth in the third quarter but is facing headwinds in the form of higher borrowing costs, a cooling labor market, and potentially softer consumer spending.