Economists Lift Forecasts For Today’s US Q2 GDP Report

In a final round of predictions, forecasters raised expectations for today’s preliminary estimate of second quarter GDP growth. The projections still anticipate that output will remain modest, but the 11th-hour predictions suggest that an upside surprise is possible in today’s release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that’s due at 8:30 am Eastern.

Most estimates still call for a rebound in growth in the 2%-3% range for Q2, up from a weak 1.4% increase in Q1 (seasonally adjusted annual rate). In recent days, however, some analysts think that today’s “advance” report may deliver an upside surprise.

“Econoday’s consensus for second-quarter GDP is 2.6% but the late updates point more perhaps to the higher end of Econoday’s consensus range, currently capped at 3.2%,” the consultancy advises.

Yet there is one special wild card and that’s consumer spending which makes up the bulk of the report. Econoday’s consensus for the consumer component is very solid at 2.8 percent, strength however that belies weakness in retail sales and is dependent on a strong June showing for consumer services.

Charlie Ripley, investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management, is looking for a 2.6% rise in Q2 GDP, noting that “it’s a slow-growth environment, but it’s stable, and I think that’s what some investors are really overlooking.”

Yesterday’s survey of Wall Street economists via CNBC points to a median 2.9% estimate of Q2 growth — up from 2.5% as of July 18.

The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model posted a final upside revision to 2.8% from 2.5% in yesterday’s revision. “The forecast of the contribution of inventory investment to second-quarter growth increased from 0.54 percentage points to 0.82 percentage points after this morning’s advance reports on durable manufacturing and wholesale and retail inventories from the US Census Bureau,” the bank explains.

Growth at just below 3% in today’s Q2 data is also the outlook for RBC Capital Markets’ Tom Porcelli.

We look for the first cut of Q2 GDP to come in just shy of 3% on the heels of a paltry 1.4% outcome in Q1. Critically, we look for a significant rebound in real consumer spending (to 2.9% from 1.1% prior) supported by very constructive household fundamentals. Overall this leaves topline economic activity in H1 near the post-recession average of just north of 2%.