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Economic growth in the US is expected to have slowed to a steady pace in the second quarter of 2023, as activity proved resilient in the face of the Federal Reserve’s campaign of aggressive interest rate rises.
The world’s largest economy is forecast to have grown 1.8 per cent on an annualised basis between April and June, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That would mark the second consecutive quarter of slowing growth, following a 2 per cent growth rate in the first quarter.
Preliminary official figures will be published by the commerce department at 8.30am Eastern Time on Thursday. Consumer spending is expected to have slowed after an unusually strong start to the year, but the reduction would be partially offset by strong business investment.
The data comes a day after the US central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate to the highest level in 22 years as part of its ongoing efforts to tame inflation.
The consumer price index in the US has fallen from a peak of more than 9 per cent in June 2022 to 3 per cent last month, while the unemployment rate remains close to record lows and consumer confidence has improved.
The combination of recent data have raised hopes among economists and investors that the central bank will achieve the rare feat of a “soft landing” — bringing inflation under control without major economic damage. But others are concerned that the economy’s resilience will make it harder to bring inflation all the way to the Fed’s 2 per cent target.
Central bank chair Jay Powell on Wednesday said his “base case is that we will be able to achieve inflation moving back down to our target without the kind of really significant downturn that results in high levels of job losses”.
He also noted the risks: “At the margins, stronger growth could lead over time to higher inflation and that would require an appropriate response for monetary policy, so we’ll be watching that carefully.”
Economists made an unusually wide range of predictions for Thursday’s growth data, with forecasts gathered by Refinitiv ranging from 0.3 per cent to 3 per cent annualised growth rates. Economists at Pantheon Macroeconomics said forecasting this quarter was complicated by the fact that several pieces of data on international trade and durable goods orders, which are normally released in advance, are this month being published at the same time as the GDP figures.