Growth picture enjoys uptick

Economists have significantly raised their estimates of third-quarter economic growth ahead of the government’s official report Thursday, easing near-term fears of another recession.
A consensus of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News estimates the economy grew at a still-modest 2.5 percent annual pace last quarter, up from their 1.8 percent projection less than two weeks ago. The brighter picture follows better-than-expected data on retail sales, manufacturing, jobs and business investment.
That’s not robust, but it beats the anemic expansion of less than 1 percent the first half of 2011. Amid last summer’s debt battle in Congress, the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and financial turmoil in Europe, many analysts thought the U.S. was on the verge of another downturn.
Since Oct. 3, 10-year Treasury yields have risen nearly half a percentage point, indicating growth prospects are prompting a shift of money to higher-risk assets, says market strategist Anthony Valeri of LPL Financial.
Many experts say the third-quarter upturn was due to temporary factors, particularly the end of supply disruptions after the Japanese earthquake, and the decline in oil prices. The Commerce Department said last week that retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in September, partly because of a 3.6 percent rise in auto sales as Japanese bottlenecks eased.
Meanwhile, manufacturing grew at a 4.3 percent annualized rate in the third quarter. And business investment in equipment and software has rebounded. Both measures were buoyed by the unclogging of Japanese supply channels and lower oil prices.

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