Economic Contraction Losing Steam

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The contraction of the U.S. economy seems to be slowing down.

"The 'Great Recession' is hardly over, but the rate of decline is slowing and the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into view," states the "Eye on the Economy" newsletter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHM).

The economy apparently contracted most in the last quarter of 2008, due primarily to the "massive shock" to financial markets, the newsletter states. GDP fell by an annual rate of 6.3% in fourth quarter, 2008 and continues to shrink at a slightly less alarming 6.1% in the first quarter, 2009. More recent data indicates that rate may be revised to about 5.5%.

"We continue to believe that GDP growth will swing into the black in the second half of this year, aided and abetted by the federal stimulus package and by the financial market policy blitz engineered by the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Administration," the NAHB newsletter says. "However, we're expecting below-trend GDP growth that will be accompanied by further deterioration of the labor market," it adds.

Read the current issue of NAHB's Eye on the Economy newsletter here.