GDP Revision Latest Sign of Economic Growth

Economic growth has been elusive in this country the past four years. But today’s GDP revision is the latest in a series of promising signs that things may finally be turning around.

America’s gross domestic product grew more than previously thought in the second quarter. The Commerce Department revised its U.S. GDP figures in the April-through-June period up to 1.7%, from 1.5%.

Corporate profits also jumped 6.1% compared to the same quarter a year ago, the Commerce Department said.  

On their own, neither statistic will knock your socks off exactly. But there have been a number of other slight improvements of late. Consider:

Retail sales increased at their fastest rate in five months. July retail sales improved 0.8% from June – the first month-to-month increase since March.

Bank profits rise 21%. A report out yesterday showed that U.S. bank profits just had their third-best quarter since the recession. Loan-loss provisions fell to their lowest level in five years.

– Hiring picked up dramatically in July. The 163,000 jobs added were the most since February, and way ahead of the 95,000 jobs economists expected U.S. employers to add last month.

-Home prices increased in June. It was the first 12-month increase in housing costs since September 2010.

 – U.S. GDP has now increased for 12 straight quarters. That’s the most consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth since 2005-2007.

There are still plenty of troubling economic trends, of course.

Unemployment has risen a couple ticks since April, tempering much of the enthusiasm about the improved hiring numbers. The FDIC still lists 732 U.S. banks on their “problem” list. And last month’s GDP growth, while higher than previously thought, was tied for the third-slowest quarter since the recession.

So it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the U.S. economy. Ben Bernanke and the Fed may still feel the economy is struggling enough to warrant a third round of quantitative easing.

But all these slight signs of improvement of late have added up. Perhaps that’s why U.S. markets are hovering near their highest levels in four years.

The financial picture is still grim … just maybe not as grim as some would have you believe. 

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