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Trump touts 'amazing' 4.1 percent U.S. economic growth

A surge in consumer spending and exports pushed the pace of economic growth to its strongest showing in nearly four years.

The U.S. economy grew by an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the second quarter, marking the fastest pace since 2014.

A surge in consumer spending and exports pushed the rate of gross domestic product growth slightly higher than the 4 percent that economists had predicted, according to figures released Friday by the Commerce Department.

President Donald Trump called the rate "amazing" and predicted further growth at the White House Friday.

"We're on track to hit the highest annual average growth rate in over 13 years and I will say this right now, and I'll say it strongly. As the trade deals come in one by one, we’re going to go a lot higher than these numbers and these are great numbers," Trump said.

Friday's announcement marks the nation's highest rate of growth during Trump's presidency so far, though it is not unprecedented, despite Trump touting it as evidence of an "economic turnaround of historic proportions."

President Barack Obama, whose first election coincided with a debilitating economic collapse, had four quarters of higher growth than this during his presidency. It would tie for the fifth strongest quarter under President George W. Bush and the 13th strongest quarter under President Bill Clinton.

The president repeatedly credited his administration for the growth — which had begun before he took office — and suggested that his trade policies had stopped other countries that had "stolen our jobs and plundered our wealth."

There have yet to be any new trade deals struck under the president, though he has raised tariffs and pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Still, he argued that his trade negotiations had made a big impact.

"Perhaps one of the biggest wins of the report, and it is indeed a big one, is that the trade deficit — very dear to my heart, because we've been ripped off by the world — has dropped by more than 50 billion dollars," Trump said.

The president was also adamant that this was the start of a consistent rate of higher growth. Most economists say the economy is doing well right now, though they do not expect this very high rate of growth to continue.

"We have added 3.7 million new jobs since the election, a number that is unthinkable when we went back to the campaign, no one would have said it," Trump said, taking credit for the final months of Obama's job growth along with the growth under his own administration.

The president actually promised far more than that: At his inauguration, he promised 25 million jobs over the next decade, or roughly 208,000 jobs a month for 10 years.

Historic low unemployment, a steady rise in wages, and a variety of tax breaks likely boosted spending by businesses and consumers during the April through June period.

Trump indicated on Thursday that he was expecting a strong number, telling a rally at an Illinois steel plant, "Somebody actually predicted today 5.3 [percent growth]. I don’t think that’s going to happen — but if it has a 4 in front of it, we’re happy."

"These are unthinkable numbers," Trump said at the rally. "If I would have used these numbers during the campaign, the fake news back there would’ve said 'He's exaggerating.'"

Trump has made economic growth one of the cornerstones of his presidency, pushing forward with a fiscal stimulus plan that includes tax reform, deregulation, and infrastructure spending to revitalize the economy after the Great Recession.

Friday's figures all but solidify the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will continue its plan of gradually raising its benchmark interest rate for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019. The Fed, led by Trump-nominated Jerome Powell, has raised rates twice by one-quarter of a percentage point so far this year. The current consensus is that the Fed will hike rates to 3.4 percent by 2020 in order to keep inflation under control.