US GDP BEATS

The US economy grew faster than initially reported in the fourth quarter of last year, at a pace of 2.1%, according to the Commerce Department’s third estimate.

Economists had forecast a revision to 2% from the second estimate of 1.9%, according to Bloomberg.

Personal consumption was stronger than initially thought, and led the overall upward revision. Its growth was reported at 3.5%, up from 3%.

This print is the final reading on fourth-quarter economic growth until annual revisions for all of 2016 are released later.

It’s also the last big piece of economic data that covers President Barack Obama’s presidency. The fact that it’s GDP — the most comprehensive reading on US economic growth — is important, because President Donald Trump has vowed to return the economy to annual growth above 4% during his presidency.

However, this would be very difficult to achieve, because even after eight years of economic recovery, worker productivity is still quite low. There also isn’t enough spare capacity in the labour market to grow by that much. Trump’s promise is above the most bullish estimates from the Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fund, among others.

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