After a bleak start to the year, the economy grew at a brisk annual rate of 4.2 percent in the April-June quarter, the government said Thursday, slightly faster than it first estimated.
The upward revision supported expectations that the second half of 2014 will prove far stronger than the first half.
The Commerce Department’s second estimate of growth for last quarter followed its initial estimate of 4 percent. The revision reflected stronger business investment than first thought.
The seasonally adjusted
4.2 percent annual growth rate for the gross domestic product — the nation’s total output of goods and services — came after the economy had shrunk at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter. That was the economy’s biggest drop since the depths of the Great Recession, and it reflected the effects of a harsh winter that kept people away from shopping malls and disrupted factory production.
Many economists say they expect growth of about 3 percent in the July-September quarter and for the rest of the year.
During a White House news conference Thursday, President Obama took note of the new estimate. “There are reasons to feel good about the direction we are headed,” he said.
The president said he would press Congress when it returns next week to take further actions to boost the economy.
— Associated Press
Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen’s assets rose in value by at least 8 percent during 2013, raising their total to between $5.3 million and $14.1 million, according to her latest financial disclosure, released Thursday.
Yellen’s biggest asset is a trust fund she set up in 1992 with her husband, George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. Its value is estimated at between
$1 million and $5 million.
Yellen’s assets likely have been driven up in value by a rebounding economy and rising stock market. In 2012, her disclosure form estimated her assets at between $4 million and $13 million. Some of Yellen’s listed assets belong to her alone; others are co-owned with Akerlof.
The disclosure documents provided only a broad range rather than a specific figure for total assets.
Yellen’s disclosure form covers calendar year 2013, when she served as the Fed’s vice chair before succeeding Ben Bernanke in February to become the first woman to head the central bank.
One of the assets Yellen listed was a stamp collection, valued at between $15,000 and $50,000, a value that did not increase from 2012. The stamp collection is jointly owned with Akerlof.
Yellen, 68, said she was receiving a pension from the University of California at Berkeley, where she and Akerlof were for many years.
— Associated Press
● An outburst over a reclined seat led an American Airlines flight to divert to Boston, at least the second such incident in the United States this week. Prosecutors said Paris resident Edmund Alexandre became upset after a woman reclined the seat in front of him on a Miami-to-Paris flight late Wednesday. He’s accused of grabbing the arm of a crewman who tried to calm him. A federal air marshal subdued Alexandre, who was arrested when the plane landed around 10 p.m. A United Airlines flight diverted to Chicago on Sunday after two passengers argued over reclining a seat.
● More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July — a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed. The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.3 percent to 105.9 last month. Still, the index remains 2.1 percent below its level a year ago.
● Robert Benmosche, who is stepping down this weekend after five years as American International Group’s chief executive, said he learned in May that he had nine months to a year to live. Benmosche, 70, told Bloomberg Television that he moved up his exit, which had been slated for early 2015. The CEO, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, said he wants to enjoy the time he has left after outliving earlier prognoses and repaying the insurer’s $182.3 billion U.S. bailout. “I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to play the odds. So let’s accelerate my retirement,’ ” Benmosche said. And the board was happy to do that.”
● Dollar General said it still wants to buy rival Family Dollar. “We remain firmly committed to the acquisition,” Dollar General chief executive Rick Dreiling said in a statement. Last week, Family Dollar rejected Dollar General’s $8.95 billion offer in favor of a slightly smaller one from rival Dollar Tree for about $8.5 billion. Dollar General also said its second-quarter revenue rose 7.5 percent from a year ago to $4.72 billion, thanks to higher cigarette, food and candy sales at its stores.
● U.S. banks’ earnings rose 5.2 percent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported. U.S. banks earned $40.2 billion in the second quarter of this year, up from $38.2 billion in the same period in 2013. The number of banks on the FDIC's problem list fell to 354 in the second quarter, the lowest number in more than five years and down from 411 in the January-March period.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Personal income and spending for July.