Economists cut U.S. Q4 growth forecasts

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Forecasters cut their expectations for U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter, though the labor market was seen holding on to recent improvement, a survey released on Friday showed.

Economists expect the economy to grow at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the current quarter, down from the previous estimate of 2.2 percent growth, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's fourth-quarter survey of 39 forecasters.

While that left estimates for gross domestic product for the year unchanged at 2.2 percent, growth in 2013 looked modestly weaker with economists forecasting 2 percent, down from 2.1 percent.

Over the next three quarters, growth was seen averaging 2.1 percent, down from earlier expectations of 2.2 percent.

The unemployment rate was forecast to come in lower than expected, averaging 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous estimate of 8.1 percent. The monthly unemployment rate released by the government was 7.9 percent in October.

Still, unemployment was seen stuck at 7.9 percent in the first quarter of next year, and holding at 7.8 percent in the second and third quarters.

Economists raised their forecasts for inflation this quarter with the headline consumer price index seen averaging 2.3 percent, up from earlier estimates for 2.0 percent. For the year, CPI was expected to average 1.9 percent, up from 1.8 percent.

Core CPI, which strips out volatile energy and food prices, was expected to rise by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter, down from the previous forecast of 2.0 percent. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)



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