American GDP figures revised upwards to show slight growth

 
Ben Southwood
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US OUTPUT grew slightly in the fourth quarter of 2012, figures showed yesterday, rather than declining as government statisticians had originally thought.

US GDP grew 0.1 per cent – at an annualised basis – in the fourth three month chunk of the year, rather than falling by the same amount, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) said, after looking at extra data.

Last month the BEA had shocked analysts by releasing its first estimate of GDP for the final quarter of last year – which showed a 0.1 per cent contraction. Yet many economists already expected that figure to be revised upwards in yesterday’s data set.

Meanwhile, the most up-to-date unemployment figures suggested an improvement. New claims for unemployment insurance slid 22,000 to reach 344,000 in the week ending 23 February. But symptomatic of the zig-zagging decline in the measure, last week’s figure remained 2,000 above the figure for two weeks earlier.

Total claims improved more substantially, for the week before, ending 16 February. Insured unemployment by that measure fell back 91,000 to 3,074,000. This put jobless numbers almost 300,000 lower than the same week a year earlier, when there was a total of 3,427,000 claims.

This came as figures suggested the US’s third city Chicago’s business expansion was gathering pace.

The Institute of Supply Management’s Chicago purchasing managers’ index (PMI) business survey ticked up from 55.6 in January to 56.8 in February, its highest level for 11 months.

Since it is further above 50, it suggests speedier growth in the city whose metropolitan area claims a population of around 9.8m.