Daily News 3/27/2015

March 27, 2015

Friday – March 27

Economic growth eased in the fourth quarter of 2014 as a surge in consumer spending was offset by a big decline in both business inventory and equipment investment. The government reported that final reading for fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 fell to 2.2% from the 5.0% recorded in the third quarter and down from 4.6% in the second quarter. Many economists are now worrying over the results in the first quarter of 2015 for GDP, which could mirror the economy’s weak performance in the first quarter of 2014, when GDP contracted by 2.1% due to extreme cold temperatures and heavy snow in parts of the country.

Consumer optimism slipped in March as higher gas prices coupled with harsh winter weather put a damper on how lower-income Americans felt about the economy. The Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 93.0 in March, down from the 95.4 recorded in February, the lowest reading since November. By contrast, those in the higher income brackets registered gains in confidence. Despite the lower reading in March, Consumer Confidence remains broadly positive hitting a 10-year high in the first quarter of 2015 of 95.5.

Soda consumption in the U.S. continued to slow in 2014 as Americans turn more health conscious and opted for bottled water to quench their thirst. Bottled water consumption rose by 7.3% in 2014 from 2013, its fastest rate since 2006. Sales of soda fell by 1% in 2014, the tenth straight yearly decline. A recent study showed that soda consumption in 2014 totaled 12.76 billion gallons, with bottled water at 10.87 billion gallons. It is expected that by 2017, bottled water consumption could surpass soda as calorie counting Americans reach for water and other healthier soft drinks.