The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a rate of 4.0 percent in the second quarter, well above the consensus estimate of 3.0 percent, and the contraction during the first quarter was revised up from a -2.9 percent rate to -2.1 percent.
Inventory growth was the primary reason for the strong expansion as this component contributed 1.7 percentage points to the overall growth rate after subtracting 1.1 percentage points to the first quarter rate. Consumer spending also contributed 1.7 percentage points with durable goods sales, particularly autos, responsible for the bulk of the increase.
This report also included regular annual revisions to the data that showed growth in 2011 and 2012 was worse than previously believed but that 2013 was much better. Based on the quarterly rates, 2011 growth was revised down from 2.1 percent to 1.7 percent and, in 2012, the economy expanded at a rate of just 1.6 percent versus 2.0 percent as previously reported. Data for last year was revised sharply higher, up from 2.6 percent to 3.1 percent.