U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006. The slowdown, which follows two back-to-back quarters of bullish growth, is likely to be short-lived given the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices. Economists had expected GDP to expand at a 3 percent rate in the fourth quarter. The report came two days after the Federal Reserve said the economy was growing at a "solid pace," an upgraded assessment that keeps it on track to start raising interest rates this year.
U.S. consumer sentiment rose in January to its highest level in 11 years on better job and wage prospects, a survey released on Friday showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final January reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 98.1, its best showing on a final basis since January 2004 and the latest in a string of increases since August. "Consumers judged prospects for the national economy as the best in a decade, with half of all consumers expecting the economic expansion will continue for another five years," said Richard Curtin, the survey's director. "While renewed strength in consumer spending will boost the pace of economic growth in 2015, most consumers are counting only on modest income gains during the years ahead.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, putting major indexes on track for a second straight monthly decline, as data showed U.S. gross domestic product grew less than expected in the last quarter of 2014.