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U.S. GDP Expands at 0.2% Pace in First Quarter

Wall Street Journal (04/29/15) Jeffrey Sparshott; Kate Davidson

The economy slowed significantly in the first quarter of 2015 due to harsh winter weather across much of the country, a reduction in corporate investment, a decline in exports, and reduced consumer spending, continuing the uneven growth seen during the nearly six-year economic expansion. Gross domestic product expanded at a 0.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, down from a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter of 2014. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast growth of 1.0% in the first quarter.

The first-quarter numbers repeat a pattern seen in recent years: one or two strong readings followed by a big retrenchment. Prior to this year, first-quarter GDP growth had averaged 0.6% since 2010 and all other quarters had averaged 2.9%, meaning moderate overall expansion.

Although most economists anticipate a second-quarter rebound, some forecasts are muted. J.P. Morgan Chase, for example, has forecast GDP of 2.5% in the second quarter.