Fourth quarter GDP increased at rate of 3.2%

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the ureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 4). The "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on February 25, 2011.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The acceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected a sharp downturn in imports, an acceleration in PCE, and an upturn in residential fixed investment that were partly offset by downturns in private inventory investment and in federal government spending and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

Final sales of computers added 0.31 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.29 percentage point to the third-quarter change. Motor vehicle output subtracted 0.34 percentage point from the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after adding 0.49 percentage point to the third-quarter change.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 0.7 percent in the third. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent in the third.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 2.4 percent in the third. Durable goods increased 21.6 percent, compared with an increase of 7.6 percent. Nondurable goods increased 5.0 percent, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent. Services increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Real nonresidential fixed investment increased 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 10.0 percent in the third. Nonresidential structures increased 0.8 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 3.5 percent. Equipment and software increased 5.8 percent, compared with an increase of 15.4 percent. Real residential fixed investment increased 3.4 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 27.3 percent.

Real exports of goods and services increased 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 6.8 percent in the third. Real imports of goods and services decreased 13.6 percent, in contrast to an increase of 16.8 percent.

Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of 8.8 percent in the third. National defense decreased 2.0 percent, in contrast to an increase of 8.5 percent. Nondefense increased 3.7 percent, compared with an increase of 9.5 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 0.9 percent, in contrast to an increase of 0.7 percent.

The change in real private inventories subtracted 3.70 percentage points from the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after adding 1.61 percentage points to the third-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter, following increases of $121.4 billion in the third quarter and $68.8 billion in the second.

Real final sales of domestic product -- GDP less change in private inventories -- increased 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent in the third.

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