The revised fourth-quarter growth figure, released Friday, showed the economy expanded by 2.4% in the last three months of 2013, sharply falling from a growth rate of 4.1% in the third quarter. Frigid temperatures weighed on the economy's largest components -- retail sales, industrial production and residential construction.
Although the economic data have been lackluster, forward-looking reports, as seen in the consumer-sentiment index from the University of Michigan, paint a more positive outlook. The indicator, also reported Friday, came in at 81.6, above an estimated reading of 81.2.
The question is whether the weather has distorted the numbers so much over the past few months to render them useless. If that's the case, the positive consumer sentiment readings may be a more accurate reflection of the health of the economy.
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