By Jeff Cox, CNBC–
The economy is on track to put up blockbuster growth numbers in the first quarter, according to the latest forecast from the Atlanta Fed.
GDP is expected to surge 5.4 percent to start 2018, the central bank branch estimated in its latest rolling look how the economy is progressing.
If the forecast holds, it would be the best quarter since the Great Recession ended in 2009. The previous highest was Q3 of 2014, which hit 5.2 percent.
That forecast comes amid some sharply improving data released Thursday.
Real consumer spending jumped from 3.1 percent to 4 percent amid a sharp savings drawdown, and private fixed-investment growth surged from 5.2 percent to 9.2 percent.
That comes as jobless claims hover around generational lows and the unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent. Productivity, however, continues to be lackluster, falling 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter against an expected rise of 1 percent.
GDP four the fourth quarter came in at 2.6 percent, a disappointment caused primarily by a decline in inventories and a surge in imports, temporary setbacks expected to reverse in the quarters ahead.
President Donald Trump rode to office on promises of growth that would hit at least 3 percent and run as high as 6 percent.
The Atlanta Fed also was optimistic about the 2017 first quarter, estimating growth at one point to be 3.4 percent, where the final reading came in at 1.2 percent.