Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.
The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "second" estimate issued last month. In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.8 percent (see "Revisions" on page 3).
The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.
The fourth-quarter acceleration in real GDP primarily reflected a sharp downturn in imports, an acceleration in PCE, an upturn in residential fixed investment, and an acceleration in exports that were partly offset by downturns in private inventory investment, in federal government spending, and in state and local government spending, and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.
In general, this is a good report. The reasons for the increase were broad based -- investment, exports and PCEs added to growth. Imports dropped -- which is something we shouldn't count on this quarter. Also, several news stories noted that with high gasoline prices negatively impacting consumer sentiment, the 1Q number will probably be lower.