Is Weather Really All That Killed Q1 GDP?

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139716013The first quarter of 2014 was painfully slow. You likely now know what the blame was — weather. It is also seen in many corporate earnings reports that have come out in the past two weeks. The Commerce Department put growth at a nearly negligible level for the first quarter, a mere 0.1% annualized gain. This is on the heels of 2.6% GDP growth in the fourth quarter.

Bloomberg and Dow Jones both called for a gain of 1.1% in the first quarter. You might think that the headline would have spooked investors much more than it did, but corporate reports have been good on earnings with limited revenue growth.

The report on final sales of domestic demand rose by 0.7% in the first quarter, down from the 2.7% gain in the fourth quarter.

The so-called PCE in services rose by 1.96%, but this was not enough to make an ugly report any prettier. Exports, which had been helping matters, managed to show negative growth with a drop of just over 1% in the fourth quarter.

Pricing and inflation remain tame in terms of gross domestic product as well. The price index rose by 1.3% on an annualized basis during the first quarter, down from a gain of 1.6% in the fourth quarter. Bloomberg called for a gain of about 1.7%.

Another inflation measurement on pricing remained tamer than expected as well. Core chain prices were up by only 1.3% in the first quarter, down from a 1.9% gain in the fourth quarter.

Many reports have cited adverse weather during January and February as winter storms kept consumers (and often workers) sitting at home rather than going out.

Again, earnings season prepared traders and investors alike for this round of bad news. The S&P was up more than two points and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up almost 30 points in mid-morning trading on Wednesday.

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Filed under: Economy
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