U.S. economy expanded 2.5 percent in first quarter

April 26, 2013 at 9:11 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. gross domestic product expanded in the first quarter but less than expected, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday.

The economy grew 2.5 percent January through March, shy of the 3 percent gain economists had predicted but a sizable jump from the 0.4 percent gain of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Economists had expected a pendulum swing forward in inventory buildup and a boost from the housing market.

The 2.5 percent gain is considered an advanced figure that could be revised as more information becomes available.

The bureau said positive contributions were broad in the first quarte, with gains in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, residential investment and non-residential fixed investment, which refers to commercial property.

The gains were offset by declines in federal, state and local government spending. There was also an increase in imports, which subtracts from the GDP.

The price index for the quarter, which reflects prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.1 percent after rising 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Prices excluding food an energy, the category known as core prices, rose 1.3 percent January through March after increasing 1.2 percent October through December.

Personal spending in the quarter rose 3.2 percent after a 1.8 percent gain in the previous quarter.

Spending on goods expected to last three years or more rose 8.1 percent. Spending on non-durable goods increased 1 percent.

Federal spending fell 8.4 percent in the quarter after dropping 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. National defense spending fell 11.5 percent after a 22.1 percent drop in the previous quarter.

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