The Commerce Department reported US economic growth slowed at an annualized rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 4.1 percent from the previous quarter.
Though the reading matched economists’ expectations, the Commerce Department blamed the government shutdown in October for the reduced fourth-quarter GDP growth, which they say was about 0.3 percentage point.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week to 348,000 from an upwardly revised 329,000, the week prior. Wall Street expected the number of claims to rise to 330,000 from an initially-reported 326,000.
Even though emerging markets are in trouble and job growth in the US stifled last month the Federal Reserve said it is bullish on America. The Federal Open Market Committee ignored the negative economic indicators and voted unanimously to press forward with its plan to gradually wean the economy from easy-money stimulus policies.
The Fed has forecast that the economy will continue to expand at around that 3% rate throughout 2014 and at an even stronger rate in 2015 without stoking inflation.
Wall Street was buzzing at the end of the day when Internet giant Google (GOOG) posted a lighter-than-expected 17 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits on Thursday, but the company’s revenue growth exceeded forecasts due to increased revenue from paid clicks.
Shares of the tech titan bounced between gains and losses in after-hours action following the mixed results and a dividend announcement.
Google said it earned $3.38 billion, or $9.90 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $2.89 billion, or $8.62 a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, it earned $12.01 a share, trailing forecasts from analysts for $12.20.
Revenue increased 17% to $16.86 billion, narrowly topping the Street’s view of $16.75 billion. International revenue totaled $8.77 billion, representing 56% of total revenue, up from 54% the year before.