Merrill Lowers Growth Forecast

By John S. McClenahen In the wake of the U.S. Commerce Department's below-expectations report of just a 3% annual rate of economic growth during the second quarter of this year, Merrill Lynch & Co., New York, is lowering its GDP forecasts for both the third and fourth quarters. Merrill now foresees a 3% rate of growth in the current quarter, down from 3.4%, and a 3.5% growth rate during the final quarter of the year, down from 3.8%. However, "for 2004 as a whole, the average annual growth rate remains at 4.2%, due in large part to the upward revision in first-quarter GDP," Merrill adds. The Commerce Department puts the first-quarter GDP growth rate at 4.5%.

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