U.S. Economy Is Probably Limping Along Because of Frustrating Consumers: Week Ahead
U.S. economy is struggling a bit.

Wall Street will get its first glimpse of how the U.S. economy performed during the second quarter in the coming week.

And, again, it could show an economy merely limping along.

"I think it's going to come in as more of the dreary same," Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, told TheStreet. North targets growth in the second quarter of roughly 2% to 2.5%.

FactSet estimates show second-quarter GDP growth of 2.4% after a reading of 2.1% in the first quarter. The first estimate of economic growth from April to June will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday, July 28.

The cause of a lethargic economy is the consumers' reluctance to spend even as confidence remains relatively high, explained North.

"The consumer is so frustrating in the sense that the consumer expresses continued confidence and exuberance and yet fails to act on it," he said.

Retail sales in the U.S. fell in two of the three months of the second quarter. Sales declined by 0.1% and 0.2% in May and June, respectively, while rising by 0.3% in April. Meanwhile, consumer confidence showed a surprise increase in June with a measure on current conditions near a 16-year high.

Economists expect confidence to begin to falter, though, as gridlock in Washington eats away at hopes for President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda. Expectations have taken a hit in recent weeks after the Senate GOP failed to push through a repeal-and-replace healthcare bill it had been championing for more than seven years.

"There's no wonder people aren't spending," added North. "They're hopeful but why are they going to spend when nothing has happened? Especially when you have the House, the Senate, and the presidency and nothing has happened on the agenda yet."

Consumer confidence for July will be released on Tuesday, July 25, at 10 a.m. Economists' estimates compiled by FactSet show that confidence is expected to take a nearly three-point hit to fall to 116.

The Federal Reserve will convene this week with an announcement on monetary policy scheduled for Wednesday, July 26. Economists don't expect the central bank to make a change to interest rates, though investors will comb through the statement to discern when the Fed could begin to unwind its balance sheet. Most Fed watchers anticipate that process to begin at the September meeting.

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