U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from 5 percent in the previous quarter, according to the Commerce Department’s preliminary estimate released Friday. For the year, GDP increased 2.4 percent, up from 2.2 percent in 2013.
“The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment,” the Commerce Department said in its release.
A strengthening dollar and a slowdown in Asia is impacting U.S. exports, offsetting gains to the U.S. economy that were made in the last three months of the year from increased consumer spending and lower fuel prices. The annual growth rate still lingers below the average 3.4 percent seen in the 1990s.
Fourth-quarter growth was expected to decelerate on slowing business investment. Economists expected the U.S. economy to expand at a 3.1 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, according to analysts polled by Reuters. The slower growth came after third-quarter expansion was 5 percent, the fastest pace in 11 years. GDP increased 4.6 percent in the second quarter, after decreasing 2.1 percent in the first due largely to harsh winter weather entering the year.
Following the report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 159 points, or 0.91 percent, to 17,273; the S&P 500 Index Futures fell 17 points, or 0.84 percent, to 2,001.5. The Nasdaq Composite Futures lost 18.25 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,168.5.