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First Cut: Third estimate of fourth quarter 2019 GDP unrevised at 2.1%

The third and final estimate of fourth quarter GDP was at 2.1% and the composition of growth was not much changed from the prior two reports.

In the end, personal consumption expenditures (up 1.8%, 1.24 contribution) and net exports (-$557.9 billion, 1.51 contribution) were the main positives for the expansion.

With the first quarter 2020 nearly over, the fourth quarter report fades in importance in spite of turning in growth of 2.3% for 2019 as a whole. The arrival of COVID-19 and the measures to stem its spread are going to hurt growth in the first quarter — maybe even bring it into contraction — and probably presage a downturn for the second quarter.

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