The second estimate of US Q1 GDP confirmed the disappointing first estimate. During the first three months of the year, the US economy grew by 1.8% Q/Q, while the consensus was looking for an upward revision to 2.2% Q/Q. The details show a downward revision in personal consumption (2.2% Q/Q from 2.7% Q/Q) and a lower contribution from change in inventories (0.93% from 1.19%), while both nonresidential (3.4% Q/Q from 1.8% Q/Q) and residential (-3.3% Q/Q from -4.1% Q/Q) investment show an upward revision. Government consumption and net-exports remained broadly unchanged compared to the previous reading. Core PCE was slightly downwardly adjusted from 1.5% to 1.4%. Firms started to build up inventories in the first quarter of 2011, limiting the need to build up inventories in the coming months. Also the most recent data show a loss of momentum in the US economy, signalling that also expectations for the coming quarter are rather weak.
After falling significantly in the previous two weeks, US initial jobless claims picked up in the week ended May the 21st. Initial claims rose by 10 000 from an upwardly revised 414 000 to 424 000, while the consensus was looking for a further decline (to 404 000). The less volatile four-week moving average dropped from 440 250 to 438 500. This outcome is somewhat disappointing as it brings an end to the downtrend after the elevated April levels. We had hoped to see the claims falling back below the 400 000 level, which hasn’t happened until now. Also this might be an indication that the recovery in the US is losing momentum. Continuing claims, which are reported with an extra week lag, surprised on the downside of expectations. In the week ended May the 14th, US continuing claims fell by 46 000 from an upwardly revised 3 736 000 to 3 690 000, slightly below the consensus estimate.