Economy Grew 4.6 Percent in 2nd Quarter, Stronger Than Previously Estimated

WASHINGTON (Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

The U.S. economy grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate this spring, rebounding more strongly than initially estimated from a weather-related winter contraction, the Commerce Department said Friday. In the government’s third and final revision of the data, the growth rate for the April-June period was revised up from a 4.2 percent estimate in August.

The new figure showed that the economy expanded in the second quarter at its fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2011 and topped a 4 percent annual growth rate for just the third time since the Great Recession ended five years ago.

The economy was boosted by increases in exports and private inventory investment in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said.

Growth also was spurred by consumers and businesses catching up for activity lost in the first three months of the year, when severe weather hit much of the country.

The economy shrank at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the first contraction in three years.

“Economic growth remains on a sound footing, but the quarter’s weather-driven rebound from an abnormally low first quarter overstates the extent of this growth,” said Doug Handler, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

The final revision to the second-quarter growth figure was in line with analyst expectations.

Even with the strong rebound, the first-quarter troubles mean the economy has grown just 2.5 percent in the first half of the year. That tepid pace is roughly in line with the growth since the recession ended in June 2009.

Economists are expecting the growth rate to slow in the second half of the year. Handler forecasts that the economy will expand at a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate.