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That makes it highly unlikely that the government will be able to issue the fourth-quarter GDP report due Jan. 30. A Bureau of Economic Analysis official could not say when or whether the GDP report can be issued. "There is no way for us to know until we get back and evaluate all the various data sources that go into the advance estimate of GDP," the official said.

The official asked not to be named because employees are prohibited from doing government work on furlough. "It's a little more complicated this time compared to similar events in the past," the BEA official said, "because some data-providing agencies are open, while others are closed. Once we are back up and running, we will complete our evaluation and publish a revised press release schedule for all of our economic indicators."

Coincidentally, the GDP report was to have been issued on the second day of the Federal Reserve's first meeting of the year, where the central bank is struggling to figure out the extent of the slowdown and how to tailor interest rate policy.

But in a statement, a Fed spokesperson appeared to play down the importance of the missing data so far in the central bank's decision-making.

"While having the full complement of government data available would be beneficial, the Federal Reserve's staff assessment of economic conditions takes into account a wide range of information from government and private-sector sources, as well as readings on financial and international developments, and staff continue to provide a detailed economic picture for policymakers," the statement said....

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