The US economy grew by an annualized 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, easily beating market expectations of 2 percent and following a 2.2 percent expansion in the previous three-month period.
Positive contributions came from personal consumption expenditures (0.82 percentage points), private inventory investment (0.65 percentage points), exports (0.45 percentage points), state and local government spending (0.41 percentage points), and nonresidential fixed investment (0.38 percentage points). Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased, posting a positive contribution of 0.58 percentage points. These contributions were partly offset by a decrease in residential investment (-0.11 percentage points).
Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) advanced 1.2 percent in the first quarter, easing from a 2.5 percent increase in the previous period, mainly due to a fall in consumption of goods (-0.7 percent vs 2.6 percent in Q4), in particular durable goods (-5.3 percent vs 3.6 percent). By contrast, services consumption growth remained solid (2 percent vs 2.4 percent).
Exports jumped 3.7 percent, after a 1.8 percent rise in Q4, boosted by sales of both goods (4.7 percent vs 1.2 percent) and services (1.8 percent vs 2.7 percent). On the other hand, imports declined 3.7 percent, the largest drop since the fourth quarter of 2012, following a 2 percent climb in Q4. Purchases of goods plunged 4.4 percent (vs 0.5 percent in Q4) and imports of services fell 0.8 percent (vs 8.6 percent in Q4).
State and local spending surged 3.9 percent, the most since the first quarter of 2016, reversing a 1.3 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Nonresidential fixed investment increased 2.7 percent, compared to a 5.4 percent advance in the previous three-month period. Investment in intellectual property products led the gains (8.6 percent vs 10.7 percent), followed by equipment (0.2 percent vs 6.6 percent). By contrast, investment in structures fell for the third straight quarter (-0.8 percent vs -3.9 percent).
Meanwhile, residential investment shrank for the fifth straight period (-2.8 percent vs -4.7 percent), the first such instance since the financial crisis.