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US economy grew at 2.4 percent rate in 4th quarter as consumers spent less than first thought

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, file photo, container ships wait to be off-loaded in a thick fog at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif. The Commerce Department releases fourth-quarter gross domestic product on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)The Associated Press

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, significantly slower than first thought, reflecting slower consumer spending than initially estimated.

The severe winter weather is expected to slow growth further in the current quarter, but as the snows melt, economists believe growth will rebound.

The Commerce Department says the downward revision from an initial 3.2 percent estimate for the fourth quarter primarily reflected a downgrade in consumer spending, which is now estimated to have expanded at 2.6 percent rate, still the best showing in nearly two years. But it is below the previous 3.3 percent estimate.

For all of 2013, the economy grew at a lackluster 1.9 percent, but analysts expect growth will rebound in 2014, possibly as high as 3 percent.

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