falling surfer

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Markets sold off a bit today.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 13,910, -44.0, -0.3 per cent
S&P 500: 1,501, -5.8, -0.3 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,142, -11.3, -0.3 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • This morning, the Bureau of Economic Analysis published its first reading of Q4 2012 GDP.  And it was a stunner.  According to their measure, GDP unexpectedly fell by 0.1 per cent.  Economists were looking for a 1.1 per cent growth rate.
  • Government spending was the main driver of contraction, subtracting 1.3 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth and falling 6.6 per cent. Federal spending fell 15.0 per cent, led by a 22.2 per cent drop in defence spending.  
  • Bank of America economist Michelle Meyer noted that today’s GDP report was “grossly distorted” by government spending and inventories.  “Outside of these two very volatile components, underlying growth improved with a solid gain in business investment,” she wrote. “We believe today’s report suggests upside risk to our forecast of 1.0% for Q1 GDP.”
  • Personal consumption, which is arguably the most important component of GDP, grew at a 2.2 per cent rate, which was slightly stronger than consensus estimates of 2.1 per cent.  This was was driven largely by a 13.9 per cent advance in the consumption of durable goods.
  • The Federal Reserve concluded its first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year.  And they had very little to say that was new.  There was no change in their benchmark rate and they said they would continue its purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed (i.e. quantitative easing).
  • “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in December suggests that growth in economic activity paused in recent months, in large part because of weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors,” they said.  That probably explains why Q4 GDP came up short.
  • Facebook announces its quarterly earnings after the closing bell.  Follow the release live on Business Insider.
  • Don’t Miss: JPM’s Kelly: These Charts Show That Easy Fed Money Is Doing More Bad Than Good >

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