U.S. Markets

Financial firms raise U.S. GDP growth estimates on stimulus bets

(Reuters) - Several major financial firms have upped their forecasts for U.S. economic growth based on expectations that President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill will come to fruition and bolster the recovery from pandemic-related shutdowns.

FILE PHOTO: People shop, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, on 5th Avenue in New York, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Biden’s package, on top of a nearly $900 billion stimulus bill passed in December, is expected to encourage American consumers, who account for nearly 70% of U.S. economic growth, to loosen their purse strings and release a torrent of pent-up demand as coronavirus vaccines are deployed and restrictions lifted.

HSBC Holdings, Europe’s largest bank, raised its estimated full-year 2021 GDP growth forecast by 1.5 percentage points to 5%, citing the expected revival in consumer spending. It increased its 2022 growth call to 3.0% from 2.5%.

It also cited the U.S. housing boom’s impact on residential construction.

Deutsche Bank increased its GDP growth forecasts for 2021 and 2022 as well, assuming the final fiscal aid package will be worth $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion. “Their inflation numbers pushed a bit higher too with risks on the upside,” wrote Jim Reid, a strategist at the bank.

Pimco, one of the world’s largest fixed income managers, said in a research note that the additional stimulus could “contribute to 2021 real GDP growth of over 7%,” a level not seen since “the great inflationary episode of the 1970s-1980s.”

For his part, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that 2021 economic growth could be in the range of 6% this year.

Powell also pushed back against concerns that the flood of stimulus, in addition to the central bank’s stated intention to stay the course with its accommodative monetary policy, could result in spiraling inflation.

At any rate, the Fed’s recent adoption of an “average” annual 2% inflation target would allow the U.S. economy to “run hot” for a while before tightening its policy.

The Commerce Department is due to release its second take on fourth-quarter GDP on Thursday, and economists polled by Reuters expect the number to rise to an annualized rate of 4.2%, an increase from its advance reading of 4.0%.

The Global Finance & Markets Breaking News team; Editing by Paul Simao