Implications: Today's report on real GDP growth in the fourth quarter was pretty much a non-event, with only very slight revisions to all major categories of growth, totaling up to a tiny upward revision overall, to a 4.1% annualized growth rate. That narrowly misses the consensus expected 4.2%, but no sane investor should alter their plans based on a 0.1 percentage point miss on a growth-rate expectation for a quarter that ended two months ago. Next month's GDP report for Q4 will be more important because it will include figures on economy-wide corporate profits that help us assess fair value on the stock market. In the meantime, we are watching what incoming reports suggest about real GDP growth in the first quarter of 2021. Right now we're projecting growth at a 6.0% annual rate for Q1, spurred by the roll-out of vaccines, the loosening of COVID-related restrictions, and the stimulus bill passed in late December. The best news in today's report on the fourth quarter was the increase in business investment, which should help spur productivity growth over time, which will help raise living standards. Non-residential fixed investment (business investment in equipment, commercial construction, and intellectual property) rose at a 14.0% annual rate in Q4, finishing the year down only 1.2% from the end of 2019. Look for this investment to hit a new all-time high in early 2021.
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