The revised GDP number for the 4th Quarter 2011 as moved upward from an annualized 2.8% to 3.0%, which reflected better consumption and business investment/capex spending. The one potential negative is, since inventory buildup played such a big role in last quarter’s GDP, this quarter may not have the same effect as some of that inventory is drawn down and used.
The Fed’s Beige Book, which is an account of economic conditions containing anecdotes submitted by various Fed district banks, generally referred to economic activity expanding at a ‘modest to moderate pace’ for January and early February. This is similar to how conditions from late November and early December were described in the last book. Specifically, it mentioned that manufacturing activity was steadily increasing, which is in keeping with other reports, and that consumer spending has picked up—including autos and residential real estate. Labor conditions also seem to be improving in many areas; however, wages remain tempered, which is watched closely due to potential inflation implications. Those inflation pressures appear to be in check. Read more