The GDP report revealed a story of two tales, one in which consumers are the main character and has a happy ending and another where businesses came to the spotlight, but does not have the same happy ending.
The quarterly data showed a surprising 2.2% up-tick in consumer spending, something that indicates that consumer expenditures, which account for two thirds of the economy, remain resilient. At the same time, inventories dropped at a record $103.7 billion annual rate last quarter, which had a major negative influence over the nominal GDP numbers.
“If we take into account that consumer spending rose in the first quarter despite the tight credit conditions, and that business’ shed almost all the available stocks, we may see some positive surprises in the second quarter” TheLFB-Forex.com Trade Team said.
However, despite all the recent positive news, the economy kept contracting at a very strong pace making the current recession the worst in the last half of century. The business side of the economy shows a rather weaker picture, the GDP report points out.
“Business fixed investments plunged 37.8% in the first quarter, the most on record, while nonresidential and residential construction saw a double-digit plunge. Moreover, companies cut expenses on equipment, software and construction projects at a 38% annualized rate,” TheLFB-Forex.com Trade Team said.
“These numbers show the weakness of the corporate environment, which is struggling to survive,” TheLFB-Forex.com Trade Team noted. “Most likely, corporate bankruptcies are heading toward a record this year,” they said.
The GDP numbers are still weak, and do not show a substantial improvement from the previous quarter. However, the financial markets focused mainly on the unexpected rise in consumer spending. It will be interesting to see how spending will evolve in the coming period, giving that unemployment is still rising at a very fast rate, credit markets are still tight and most importantly, the U.S. savings rate is at very low levels.