The U.S. economy, while still embattled, is expected to improve in the second half of the year due to lower oil prices and better news from certain sectors like housing and automobiles, the New York Times reported on Friday.
“The pace of economic growth is picking up, but not to a rate that is very robust,” said Joel Prakken, the chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers.
Experts cited in the Times article said that the third quarter's rate of growth was expected to be about 2.4 percent, as compared to an anemic 1.2 percent growth rate in the second quarter.
Small businesses less optimistic
Meanwhile, as the Wall Street Journal's "Real Time Economics" blog recently reported, a survey of small business owners became less optimistic in June, and that was lower than economists had expected.
"The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index fell to 91.4 in June, down 3 points from May, according to data released Tuesday," according to the blog post. "Economists had predicted a milder fall to 93."
A related index tracking expectations about conditions for the upcoming six months fell 8 percent, according to the blog.
Factors for optimism
The latest jobless benefit numbers issued by the Labor Department on Thursday showed that new claims had dropped to 350,000 a week — the lowest in four years, the Times reported.
Gas prices are lower, housing sales have picked up and the automobile business is also showing signs of renewed life, with a 22 percent increase in sales in June.
“The surge in car sales is disproportionately important,” Ian Shepherdson, an economist and forecaster at High Frequency Economics, told the Times. “It means that you’re willing and able to take out a loan — and that’s quite a good sign.”