The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the advance estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2012. Economic output, as reflected by real GDP growth, shrank at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1%. Most analysts expected growth to slow from the third quarter pace of 3.1% but the negative growth figure, while slight, was a surprise. The main contributors to the contraction were national defense spending and inventory investment, each shaving roughly 1.3 percentage points from growth. Declining exports trimmed an additional 0.3 percentage points from growth. On the positive side, accelerating personal consumption expenditures (PCE), business investment in equipment and software, and residential fixed investment (RFI) partially offset the declines.