Economic growth in the fourth quarter was better than feared only a month ago.

The Advance Report for Real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2019 came in at 2.1%. This equaled the growth of the third quarter and was below the total growth for all of 2019 of 2.3%. The Advance Report is always subject to large revisions since the data is incomplete and requires estimates of components. For example, the trade deficit for December will not be released until this week and was estimated in the Advance Report. The Advance Report came in above the consensus forecasts of just one month ago. Personal consumption expenditures were reported as having only increased by 1.8% for the quarter as compared to the 3.2% growth in the third quarter and 4.6% in the second quarter. Offsetting this reported slowing in consumer final demand was a huge decline in the trade deficit. It was estimated as being -$902 billion, down from -$990 billion in the third quarter.