Economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 slid to a 0.7 percent pace as U.S. industries grappled with painful exchange rates and volatile global financial markets. The advance estimate fell just short of analyst expectations of 0.8 percent, underscoring the economic uncertainty that has gripped investors in the first weeks of 2016.
Exports of goods fell 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter, even as consumer demand remained strong at home. Real disposable personal income rose 3.2 percent, bolstering personal consumption. Growth in gross domestic product for the third quarter of 2015 was 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The mining and manufacturing sectors were dragged down at the end of 2015 by declining commodity and oil prices, continuing a yearlong slump for the industries. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index fell into contractionary territory for the last two months of the year as orders for equipment and durable goods fell to the lowest reading in two years.
The downtick in gross domestic product comes as Wall Street analysts have notched up their odds of a downturn in 2016, with Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and JPMorgan all projecting a 1-in-5 chance or better of an official recession taking place. A recession is broadly defined as two quarters of contracting GDP.
Despite the underwhelming growth numbers, large parts of the U.S. economy remain on firm footing. Job growth galloped through the end of the year, and housing demand rose steadily, with 2015 notching up the most new-home sales since 2007.