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Zig-Zagging U.S. Economy Hard to Figure

MarketWatch (05/18/15)

Early evidence suggests the economy is unlikely to rebound in the spring. Retail sales were flat in April, consumer sentiment has declined to a seven-month low, and industrial production has fallen for five consecutive months. The economy grew just 0.2% in the first quarter, and that figure likely will be revised to show contraction. Average monthly job increases have fallen to 194,000 in the first four months of 2015 from an average of 324,000 in the final three months of 2014.

The lackluster state of the economy can be blamed on a stronger dollar, which has hurt exporters; cheaper gasoline prices that have hurt the energy sector; and weak consumer and business spending. As a result, the economy is expected to grow less than 1.0% in the second quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDP tracker. The New York Fed, meanwhile, cut its growth forecast for the year to 1.9% from a 3.5% estimate a year earlier.