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U.S. economy expanded at weakest pace in 3 years

Staff Writer |
The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending.

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The gross domestic product grew by 0.7 percent in the first quarter following a gain of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported.

The slowdown primarily reflected slower consumer spending, which grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.3 percent after a growth rate of 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter. It was the poorest quarterly showing in more than seven years.

The sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter was attributed to a collection of temporary factors: warmer weather, which shrank spending on heating bills, a drop-off in auto sales after a strong fourth quarter and a delay in sending out tax refund checks, which also dampened spending.

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