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US economic growth slows significantly in Q1 inflation rises above expectations

The latest report from the Commerce Department reveals a significant slowdown in the US economy’s growth pace, attributed partly to a widening trade deficit driven by increased imports to meet strong consumer demand. Despite this, an uptick in inflation suggests that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to consider interest rate cuts before September. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

The US economy expanded at its slowest pace in nearly two years, with gross domestic product (GDP) growing at an annualized rate of 1.6% in the first quarter. This marks a notable deceleration from the 3.4% growth rate recorded in the previous quarter and falls well below the consensus forecast of 2.5%.

The slowdown in growth can be attributed to several factors, including a surge in imports to meet robust consumer spending, which widened the trade deficit. Additionally, businesses reduced their pace of inventory accumulation, and government spending moderated. However, domestic demand remained relatively strong during the quarter.

Inflation surged during the first quarter, with the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy rising at a rate of 3.7%. This represents a significant acceleration from the 2.0% pace observed in the fourth quarter, reinforcing concerns about inflationary pressures.

Despite the overall slowdown, consumer spending continued to grow at a solid rate of 2.5%. While this represents a slight deceleration from the 3.3% growth pace seen in the previous quarter, it indicates that consumer demand remains resilient.

The acceleration in inflation reinforces expectations that the Federal Reserve will refrain from cutting interest rates before September. This suggests that policymakers are closely monitoring inflation dynamics and are likely to prioritize addressing inflationary pressures over stimulating economic growth in the near term.

Overall, the latest data paints a picture of a US economy experiencing a slowdown in growth amid persistent inflationary pressures. While consumer spending remains robust, concerns about widening trade deficits and inflationary trends are shaping expectations for Federal Reserve policy decisions in the coming months.