NEW YORK – The U.S. economy should continue to improve, with real GDP growth expected to be 2.3% this year and 2.6% next year, according to a Chicago Federal Reserve Bank symposium consensus opinion.

Unemployment, according to the median prediction, should fall to 7.9% this year and 7.6% next year.

Real personal consumption expenditures are seen at 2.5% the both years.

Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, is seen at 2.1% this year and next, according to the survey.

“Real residential investment is anticipated to grow at a strong pace in 2012, and most of the other major components of real GDP are expected to expand at a solid pace this year,” according to a release from the Fed.

Interest rates for the Treasury year bill are seen rising to 0.20% this year and 0.25 next year from 0.11% last year, while the ten-year Treasury is seen advancing to 2.21% and 2.52% from 2.05%.

Oil prices are expected to average $103.57 per barrel by the end of 2012 and then $104.25 through the end of 2013.

The consensus outlook was provided by 25 participants in the Bank’s annual Automotive Outlook Symposium, held May 31 and June 1, including members of manufacturing, banking, consulting and service firms, and academia.

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