US second-quarter growth accelerates to 2.6%

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The US economy gathered speed in the second quarter of the year, growing at an annualised pace of 2.6%.

The pick-up was helped by consumer spending in the quarter expanding at a pace of 2.8%, and businesses stepping up spending on equipment.

The growth rate for the first quarter was cut to 1.2%, compared with the previous estimate of 1.4%.

Earlier this week, the IMF revised down its US growth forecast for this year from 2.3% to 2.1%.

President Trump has pledged to pursue policies to boost the US economy, including cutting corporate and individual taxes, but has faced a Washington impasse. He has set an ambitious 3% growth target for 2017.

Consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of the US economy, accelerated from the 1.9% growth figure from the first quarter.

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The resurgence in consumer spending accounted for most of the upturn in economic growth in the second quarter.

Stuart Hoffman, PNC senior economic adviser, said that “real consumer spending once again did the heavy lifting” in terms of economic growth.

But with wage growth remaining sluggish there are concerns spending may slow in the next quarter.

A Labor Department report on Friday said its Employment Cost Index, which measures labour costs, increased 0.5% in the April to June period after growing 0.8% in the first quarter.

The latest growth figures suggest the Federal Reserve could still raise interest rates later this year, which would be the third increase in 2017. On Wednesday, the central bank left rates unchanged following its latest meeting.

However, analysts said the data suggested Fed was under no pressure to act quickly.

“Although growth is solid, the lack of wage pressure buys the Fed plenty of time, and works with a very ‘gradual’ tightening cycle,” said Alan Ruskin, of Deutsche Bank in New York.

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