U.S. economic growth was better than expected as 2018 came to a close, with GDP rising 2.6 percent, according to a first estimate the Commerce Department released Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a gain of 2.2 percent after a 3.4 percent rise in the third quarter. The growth came amid a bevy of uncertainty and a time when the stock market briefly slid into bear market territory.
Growth was helped by a 2.8 percent rise in consumer spending along with increased nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Weakness in residential fixed investment, which fell 3.5 percent, and state and local government spending served as a drag. The gross private domestic investment gain slowed to 4.6 percent in the quarter after a robust 15.2 percent rise in the previous period.
Exports rose 1.6 percent in the quarter, reversing a 4.9 percent decline in the previous quarter, while imports increased by 2.7 percent, making trade a slight net negative.