Economy Growth Slightly Below Expectations

The economy grew at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter, slightly less than initially estimated but still a solid performance, especially given galloping energy prices.

The new reading for the gross domestic product (GDP) for the April-to-June quarter released by the Commerce Department (search) on Wednesday showed a tad less robust growth than the 3.4 percent pace first estimated for the period by the government a month ago.

The slightly lower GDP (search) figure reflected the fact that consumers and businesses spent less briskly than first thought. An improved trade situation also didn't add as much to economic growth during the quarter as previously estimated.

GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States (search) and is considered the broadest measure of the country's economic standing. In the second quarter, GDP climbed to $11.1 trillion on an annualized basis, adjusted for inflation.

Before the release of Wednesday's report, analysts were predicting that the GDP in the second quarter would be unchanged at the 3.4 percent pace.

In the opening quarter of this year, the economy clocked in at a 3.8 percent growth rate. The main reason why growth slowed in the second quarter compared with the first was that businesses were working off excess supplies of goods. That actually subtracted nearly 2 percentage points from overall GDP in the second quarter.

That paring of inventories, though, sets the stage for replenishing them in the July-to-September quarter, which should help boost economic growth, analysts say.