Consumer spending buoys US growth

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US economic growth accelerated in the second quarter as solid consumer spending offset the drag from weak business spending on equipment, suggesting a steady momentum that could bring the Federal Reserve closer to hiking interest rates this year.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.3 per cent annual rate, the Commerce Department said. First-quarter GDP, previously reported to have shrunk at a 0.2 per cent pace, was revised up to show it rising at a 0.6 per cent rate.

The revision to first-quarter growth reflected steps taken by the government to refine the seasonal adjustment for some components of GDP, which economists said left residual seasonality in the data, as well as new source data.

The Fed on Wednesday described the economy as expanding “moderately” while upgrading its view of the labour market and saying housing had shown “additional” improvement. The Fed’s assessment left the door open for a possible hike in interest rates in September, which would be the first rise since 2006.

A separate report showed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. However, claims remained not too far from their cycle lows.

The dollar extended gains against a basket of currencies, while prices for US Treasury debt fell slightly.