WASHINGTON – The U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year as a harsh winter exacted a toll on business activity. The sharp slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather.
The Commerce Department says growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the weakest since the end of 2012 and down from a 2.6 percent growth rate in the October-December quarter.
Consumer spending grew at a 3 percent rate. But the gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.