Real GDP expanded 2.1% annually as expected, according to the latest report released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on Thursday. This marks the third such estimate of Q4 GDP. The financial markets have largely shrugged off the results amid the more current news of record layoffs throughout the country, with Q4 figures unlikely to have a strong bearing on upcoming economic performance in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Real GDP rose 2.1% in Q4, in line with market expectations.
- The dollar index remains in contraction, with mild upward momentum in gold, despite the results.
- All eyes are now on future economic performance due to the severely escalating virus outbreak worldwide.
Q4 GDP rose 2.1% with imports down -8.4%, slightly better than the expected drop of -8.4%. Inflation pressures held firm at 1.3%, in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous forecast. The BEA noted that "In the third estimate, an upward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was largely offset by downward revisions to federal government spending and nonresidential fixed investment.”
— Jill Mislinski (@JillMislinski) March 26, 2020
With nations around the world entering lockdown, the performance of the US economy in Q4 2019 has less of a bearing on current market activity. India, the US, the EU, China, and many other areas have closed borders. Several European countries, such as Spain, the UK, and France, have implemented police-enforced curfews, with people forbidden from walking in groups or leaving the house for non-essential activities.
A report released on Thursday reveals that 3.2 million Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, far worse than any economic forecasts. The figure is five times higher than the worst figures seen in the Great Recession, and indeed, approximately five times higher than ever seen before in US history, beating the previous record of around 700,000 in 1982.
With the global virus pandemic severely escalating, it seems inevitable that the US, along with many countries worldwide, will slip into recession as businesses continue to close due to government mandate or lack of demand. Brick and mortar businesses, in particular, will suffer from reduced foot traffic as governments around the world attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Gold prices have seen upward momentum following the day’s news, likely ignoring the Q4 GDP figures in light of the jobless claims data. Spot gold last traded at $1,632.53/oz, up 0.23% with a high of $1,635.75/oz and a low of $1,599.00/oz. Trading near session highs, gold found support near $1,600 and continues to tick upward after days of heavy volatility with multi-percentage point price swings in either direction.