Atlanta Fed Lifts GDP Growth View to 4.6 Percent

The U.S. economy is expanding at a 4.6 percent annualized rate in the second quarter in the wake of upwardly revised data on wholesale inventories for April, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow forecast model showed on Friday.

The latest estimate on gross domestic product growth was a tad stronger than the 4.5 percent pace estimated on Wednesday,

The next GDPNow update is Thursday, June 14.

The revision followed a recent string of robust economic reports.

U.S. wholesale inventories were a bit higher than initially estimated in April amid increases in the stocks of motor vehicles and a range of other goods.

The edged up 0.1 percent instead of being unchanged as it reported last month. Stocks at wholesalers rose 0.2 percent in March. They increased 5.8 percent year-on-year in April.

The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product – wholesale stocks excluding autos – nudged up 0.1 percent in April.

Inventory investment added just over one-tenth of a percentage point to the economy’s 2.2 percent annualized growth pace during the January-March period. Economists expect the pace of inventory accumulation to remain moderate in the second quarter.

A report on Monday showed inventories at manufacturers rose 0.3 percent in April after gaining 0.2 percent in March.

Thursday, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to a further tightening in labor market conditions.

The robust labor market and firming inflation have cemented expectations the Federal Reserve will raise benchmark U.S. interest rates next week. Many economists believe the U.S. central bank will hike rates two more times after its June 12-13 policy meeting to prevent the economy from overheating.

The Fed lifted borrowing costs in March and forecast at least two more rate increases for this year.

“The labor market is heating up and that means inflation pressures are building, so the Federal Reserve better get ready for it,” said Chris Rupkey, chief U.S. economist at MUFG in New York. “Rates are going up at next week’s meeting and more are on the way.”

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended June 2, Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 225,000 in the latest week.

Also Thursday, U.S. households added $1 trillion to their wealth in the first three months of this year, boosted by rising stock prices and home values,

U.S. household wealth reached $100.8 trillion in the January-March period.

The rising value of their investments has now boosted their net worth by over $6 trillion compared to the first quarter of 2017, a period that largely overlaps with the first year of the Trump administration.

Wealth has been rising since the United States emerged from the 2007-09 financial crisis and the U.S. labor market had been steadily improving for several years before Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017.

The jobless rate has continued to fall, hitting 3.8 percent in May, while stock prices have risen more than 30 percent since Trump’s election in November 2016, which buoyed optimism among investors in a fiscal expansion that would help company profits.

Household borrowing rose at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the January-March period, the Fed report also showed, down from a 4.6 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter.

The value of financial assets held by households rose by $511 billion during the first quarter, while real estate value rose by $490 billion, the report said.

Elsewhere in the U.S. central bank’s report, liquid assets held by non-financial firms were $2.7 trillion, up from $2.6 trillion in the fourth quarter.

The strength of the U.S. economy has prompted the Fed to continue with incremental increases in borrowing costs as part of a tightening cycle it began in late 2015.

It has since raised interest rates another five times and investors widely expect another nudge upwards in the lending rate at its next policy meeting on June 12-13.