In the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.4%. Fixed investment was the main driver of growth, while inventories were a large drag. Consumer spending slowed significantly from its pace in previous quarters, but still accounted for about half of GDP growth in the first quarter.
· U.S. employers added a seasonally adjusted 1,079,000 jobs during the first six months of 2017, the weakest first-half performance since 2010, according to data the Labor Department.
· Productivity was flat in the first three months of the year. Slumping productivity gains have led to disappointing real GDP growth this expansion.
· Unit labor costs rose 2.2%. Hourly compensation, encompassing everything from salaries to retirement benefits and health care costs, also rose at a 2.2% annual rate in the first quarter.
· Over the last 12 months, the all items Consumer Price Index rose 1.9% before seasonal adjustment. The core CPI was up 1.7% on the year. Core inflation appears to have moderated, as year-over-year growth was weaker than the 2.2% gain in May 2016.
· Regarding the external sector, the current account deficit, the broadest measure of U.S. trade with the rest of the world, widened to US$ 116.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017, an increase of US$ 2.8 billion. In May, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed 2.3% to a seasonally adjusted US$ 46.51 billion, as exports rose to their highest level in more than two years.
· The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised interest rates by a quarter point two times in the first half of 2017: in March and in June.