Fourth quarter GDP growth likely to look like

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Fourth quarter GDP growth likely to look like

The economy finished out of the year on Thursday morning, and traders and investors will get a look at how it will look like.

Despite the painful inflation, high-interest rates and rising concern that a recession may be months away, the U.S. probably registered decent growth.

Economists said the Commerce Department's annual growth rate was 2.6% from October to December, and that the economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate. It was down from a 3.2% pace in the third quarter on strong consumer spending and rising exports.

It will be the first of three estimates of fourth-quarter GDP growth.

The economy is expected to slow down despite a likely second straight quarter of expansion, and then slide into a recession sometime in the coming months as more high-interest rates, engineered by the Federal ReserveFederal Reserve, take a toll.

The Fed's rate hikes have inflated borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, from mortgages to auto loans to corporate credit.

The housing market, particularly vulnerable to higher loan rates, has suffered from a lot of damage: Sales of existing homes have dropped for 11 straight months.

Consumer spending, which fuels about 70% of the economy, is likely to soften in the months ahead, along with the still-robust job market.

The labor market's resilience has been a big surprise, but as higher rates make borrowing and spending more expensive across the economy, many consumers will spend less and employers will likely hire less.

The economy is likely to start the year on a firmer footing than at the beginning of 2022. The economy shrank at an annual pace of 1.6% from January through March and a further 0.6% from April through June last year.

The economy gained strength over the summer, propelled by resilient consumer spending and higher exports. It expanded at a 3.2% annual pace from July through September.