OVERNIGHT MONEY: Economic growth likely slowed last quarter

FRIDAY'S BIG STORY: 

Taking a second look: A second estimate of the nation's economic growth during the last three months of last year hits on Friday with forecasts coming in around 2.4 percent, indicating a slower pace of expansion than was initially reported.

The advance estimate, released about a month ago, showed growth hitting a 3.2 percent rate in the fourth quarter of last year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. 

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That figure was boosted by what turned out to be record exports for the year, a nice uptick in consumer spending and an increase in business investment.

But even that 3.2 percent figure was less than the third quarter's 4.1 percent pace.

Friday's figure will include more complete data about the condition of the economy in the October-December quarter.

Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics, said he is expecting 2.5 percent growth with consumer spending, export growth and inventories coming in lower than first reported.

"Growth in the quarter was weighed down by the government shutdown and unusually cold December weather," he said.

He said bad weather also will hurt growth this quarter, which is tracking closer to 2 percent. 

"I expect growth of 3 percent-plus for the remainder of the year as fiscal austerity fades and housing kicks into a higher gear," he said. 

On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen agreed with the winter weather scenario during a hearing on Thursday. She said that the the cold snap had likely led to weaker-than-expected gains in consumer spending and job growth than first reported.

December and January each produced disappointing jobs reports and other indicators also have come in below expectations, especially in the housing market and retail sales.

"We have seen quite a bit of soft data over the last month or six weeks," Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee. 

We'll see how all of these expectations pan out on Friday morning in the second of three reports on final quarter economic growth.  

 

WHAT ELSE WE’RE WATCHING

Equity market exam: A House Financial Services subcommittee on Friday will examine with various market experts the effects of Regulation National Market System, which was adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005, on U.S. equity markets. 

Ramping up travel: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will discuss on Friday ways to better promote travel and tourism and attract more international visitors to the United States at a U.S. Travel Association meeting. U.S. Travel has pushed to speed up the visa process in nations where demand is high, as well as smooth arrival procedures for visitors once they arrive here.

Housing reform: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will discuss housing finance reform and what it means for rental housing on Friday at the Center for American Progress. 

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Breaking records: The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at a record high on Thursday, surging nine points to 1,854, eclipsing its Jan. 15 record by six points.

Scharf appointed: Visa CEO Charles Scharf was named on Thursday by President Obama to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

"As a father of two, I feel a personal commitment to the issue of ensuring our nation’s children have the knowledge and skills they need to be financially successful," Scharf said.

“Building the financial capability of young Americans is critically important to ensuring a vibrant, expanding economy and a financially secure nation."

The council, which was created last summer, will hold its first meeting March 10.  

“I look forward to working with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Council Chair John Rogers and my colleagues on the Council to achieve real progress advancing financial capability for young Americans.” 

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Pending Home Sales: The National Association of Realtors will release its index for January that gauges contract signings, a forward-looking indicator of home sales.

Michigan Sentiment: Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan will release its final measure of consumer sentiment for February.  

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Japan's leader refuses to set timetable for Asia-Pacific deal

— Dem senators push IRS to cap political activity

— CFPB pushes consumer access to credit scores

— Yellen steers clear of bitcoin

— Yellen backs CBO on minimum wage findings

— Yellen: Winter weather slowed economy

— Boehner expects House to approve budget

— Hagan joins $10.10 push

— Freddie Mac posts $8.6B profit in fourth quarter

— Former software lobbyist tapped for trade post

 

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