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Front Page » February 23, 2006 » Local News » Quarterly economic growth exceeds levels posted nationwid...
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Quarterly economic growth exceeds levels posted nationwide for 20 years


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The United States has registered at 3 percent or higher economic growth during the last 10 quarters.

The nation has not witnessed similar expansion levels in 20 years, indicated the latest Zions Bank economic analysis.

Estimates for 2006 suggest real growth of 3 percent to 3.5 percent, versus near 3.7 percent in 2005 and 4.2 percent in 2004.

The economy's ability to offset the headwinds of rising short-term interest rates and high energy prices has been impressive.

Solid U.S. economic growth and higher tax receipts reduced the budget deficit for fiscal year 2005, to $318 billion, a major improvement versus 2004's $412 billion shortfall.

A deficit close to the level reported in 2005 is likely in overflow into 2006.

Budget challenges get more daunting in coming years.

The nation's unemployment rate, averaging in the 5 percent range in recent months, peaked in June 2003 at 6.3 percent.

The 6.3 percent jobless level represented a nine-year high, pointed out the bank's analysts and nationwide economic outlook forecast.

Joblessness averaged 5.5 percent in 2004 and 6 percent in 2003.

Additional slight reductions should occur during the next 18 months, predicted the bank's national economic analysis.

Net job creation has been solid in Utah and at locations throughout the United States during the last 24 months.

The nation's economy has created more than 4.1 million net employment opportunities and the U.S. is likely to witness a similar pace in 2006, predicted the bank's financial consultants.

Consumer prices will rise 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent in 2005, tied to painful natural gas prices and higher building material costs.

By comparison, consumer prices rose 3.3 percent in 2004. The majority of state and national economic forecasts predict that consumer prices will climb approximately 2.5 percent in 2006.

Intense global competition, price-sensitive consumers, more effective use of technology, and the competitive nature of the Internet will help keep inflation in check.

The bank's financial analysts expect additional moderation in energy costs in the current year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has consistently withdrawn excess monetary stimulus during the past 18 months.

Financial markets expect a 14th move at that meeting, with the chance of up to two more moves before summer.

Mortgage rates could move slightly higher within the next six to 12 months, noted the financial analysts.

The rates are tied to volatile energy prices and concerns about less foreign purchases of U.S. Treasury securities.

Mortgage interest rates have been at or near 40 year lows during the past four years.

Most economic forecasts predict slightly weaker global economic growth during 2006, following the impressive worldwide expansion reported in 2004 and 2005, indicated the bank's financial outlook.

Nevertheless, the recent performance has been the strongest global growth witnessed since the late 1970s.

Addressing the status of the Pacific Rim nations, the analysts indicated that Japan managed to return to modest economic growth during the past 12 to 15 months following a decade of economic stagnation.

Rising exports to China and stronger consumer spending have helped Japan.

China's appetite for all types of commodities, including oil, steel, copper, and cement, which had been almost insatiable, has finally slowed a bit.

India's economy continues to perform well, with rising success in developing world class performance.

The majority of the remaining economies in the Pacific Rim are performing reasonably well.

However, the European economy continues to disappoint the countries, noted the bank analysts.

Kingpins Germany and France are struggling with minuscule economic growth, coupled with jobless rates near 12 percent and 10 percent respectively.

"Old Europe" faces mounting pressures to constrain future government spending for current and impending retirees, noted the bank's financial consultants.

In addition, economic performance has weakened in the United Kingdom.

However, the Russian economy is growing, a beneficiary of climbing prices and rising oil production.

On the negative side of the spectrum, the economic decline in Africa ranks as the global community's major failure of the past 50 years, maintained the bank's latest financial analysis report.

The South American economy has slowed, led by weaker growth in Brazil.

Various Latin American nations are benefiting from capital now returning for investment, a sign of rising confidence.

Canadian economic growth has been modest, with unemployment at 6.4 percent, a 30 year low.

The Mexican economy is growing at a reasonable clip.

U.S. economic growth during the last 30 months has been impressive, with plenty of government stimulus in play, pointed out the bank's financial consultants.

Solid growth is likely to continue in Utah and at locations across the nation.

In addition, the financial analysts expect:

•Solid employment gains across the nation.

•Declining inflation pressures in the U.S.

•Steadily increasing short-term interest rates.

Slightly higher long-term rates.

•Softer coastal housing markets

•An expanding global marketplace.


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