U.S. Corp Profits Sink, GDP Revised Down

U.S. corporate profits shriveled at the fastest rate in three years in the first quarter as the economy posted even weaker growth than thought earlier, the Commerce Department said on Friday in a report highlighting the expansion's shaky state as spring began. 

The government revised down its estimate of growth in gross domestic product, or GDP -- measuring total economic output within U.S. borders -- to a 1.2 percent annual rate from 1.3 percent published a month ago. 

It said companies' after-tax profits contracted at a steep 6.2 percent rate, or by $39 billion a year, instead of the 3.1 percent decline at a $19.2-billion rate estimated a month ago. 

It was the steepest profits decline since an 8.4 rate of contraction in the first three months of 1998 when a financial crisis swept through Asia and hurt U.S. companies' overseas business, Commerce officials said.