Four quarters of consecutive declines in U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) were interrupted in the third quarter of 2009, the Bureau of Economic Analysis confirmed Tuesday, citing revised data showing an increase of 2.8% versus a preliminary figure of 3.5%.
According to the Bureau's figures, real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced in the United States -- turned positive from July through September, helped by contributions from personal consumption expenditures, exports, private inventory investment and, of course, federal spending.
The increase in GDP, for the most part, is attributed to government sponsored programs such as Cash for Clunkers rebates and an $8,000 credit for first-time homebuyers.
And while a quarter of positive GDP growth does not necessarily mean the end to a recession, the latest data still make it clear that efforts to end one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression, may be having a positive impact on the recovery phase -at least temporarily.
Since the initial GDP news was first announced on October 29, the S&P 500 has advanced nearly 5%, continuing an upward trend since the equity benchmark rebounded from a 12-year low on March 9.
For now, many economists believe that a slow economic recovery may be in place and more federal intervention may be needed to mitigate the detrimental effects of prolonged unemployment, currently standing at 10.2 percent. Despite a fragile economy, investors seem to continue to venture into the stock market, pushing stocks to their best levels this year.
If the worst of the recession is indeed behind us, trends from previous economic pitfalls may provide investors guidance to where some of the capital inflows may go next. As such, the following tables provide a look at the top performing stocks in the S&P 500 after the first quarter of positive GDP growth coming out of the past six recessions.
The last table contains the results of a stock screen, yielding eight companies that could be poised to benefit from the trends found in this analysis.
Began: December 1969
Ended: November 1970
Number of months: 11
First quarter of GDP growth: Q1 1971
Top performing sectors: Consumer Discretionary