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Tech Stocks Drag on GDP Strength

Consumer Spending Propels Q4 GDP

The Commerce Department’s third and final reading of 2017 Q4 GDP headlined today’s economic data releases, where a 0.4% upward revision to the prior estimate was driven in large part by a three-year high in consumer spending (+4.0% annual rate).  GDP in the fourth quarter expanded at a 2.9% annualized rate, moderately lower than the 3.2% growth rates posted in Q3 of 2017.  Looking ahead to Q1 2018, early projections point towards a slowing in the GDP growth rate, with the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimating a 1.8% expansion in the US economy during January through March.

Potential Infrastructure Legislation

Tomorrow President Trump will speak to workers in Ohio and will tout a series of small bills to address infrastructure concerns.  This represents a shift in strategy and is similar to the method House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested on March 8th,.  Ryan had said that the House may seek to begin working on infrastructure enhancement “in about five or six different bills”.  Previously the President had sought $200 billion of federal money spread across many different projects.  Democrats have been critical of the plans, as they do not believe there is enough federal investment proposed to spark meaningful overhaul.  Trump had previously hoped that $200 billion from the federal government would spark up to $1.5 trillion in investment when state, local and private investment factored into the equation.

Tech Shares Can’t Stop Freefall

Uncertainty over the future regulatory structure of the tech sector and the long term impact of privacy violations continued to weigh on stocks this afternoon.  All three major US equity indices finished in the red today, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq experiencing the largest losses, finishing 0.85% lower for the session as shares in Amazon and Netflix both plummeted more than 4%.  The Dow and S&P posted much more modest losses down 0.04% and 0.29% respectively.  Despite trading in a 5 bp range throughout the day, the 10 year US Treasury was nearly unchanged by the end, closing at a yield of 2.78%. Oil declined for the third straight day after a report from the Energy Information Administration showed that US crude inventories rose by 1.64 million barrels last week (+850,000 expected).  WTI crude futures fell roughly 1% for the trading session to $64.60/barrel.

 

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