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Second Quarter: How Close To 4% Growth?

By John S. McClenahen This Friday, July 30, the U.S. Commerce Department is slated to publish its first estimate of GDP growth during this year's second calendar quarter. The big question: How close to an annual rate of 4% will be estimate be? Inflation-adjusted growth of 4% would be the second quarter equally between 4.1% growth in the final quarter of 2003 and 3.9% growth during the first quarter of this year. "Real GDP probably rose at about a 4% annual rate for a third consecutive quarter," says UBS Investment Research, New York. "The composition of growth appears to have changed a bit, however, with a slowing in consumption and a pickup in business investment." Consumption, figures UBS, advanced at a 2% rate while real business investment grew at a 14% rate. Not so fast, says Merrill Lynch & Co., also based in New York. Its economists are looking for a second-quarter GDP figure of only 3.2%. "The major detractor from growth in the quarter was trade -- a $5 billion drag," the securities firm says.

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