U.S. stocks followed global markets down Thursday morning after the U.S. Commerce Department reported significantly slower third-quarter GDP growth. The slowdown was attributed to a downturn in business inventory investment, especially for exports, despite strong domestic demand. A separate monthly report from the National Association of Realtors showing lower demand for existing homes didn’t help trader sentiments.
The sluggish U.S. growth in the July-September period could reduce the chance of a highly anticipated Federal Reserve rate hike in December, which would raise borrowing costs across the economy. A rate liftoff before the end of the year would be the first in nearly a decade.
“While a below-trend quarter for growth implies the accumulation of some economic slack, the Federal Reserve will be comforted by the momentum in the domestic economy,” David Tulk, head of global macro strategy at TD Securities, wrote in a note. This means that despite the lower GDP growth, from 3.9 percent in the second quarter to 1.5 percent in the third, a rate hike, however modest, is still a strong possibility in December.
Contracts to buy existing homes declined 2.3 percent from August to September, according to a monthly report from the National Association of Realtors. It was the second consecutive month of declines, but it was 3 percent higher than September 2014.