The US economy was weaker than expected in the first quarter

The US economy slowed more than expected in the first quarter.

An advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.5% on Thursday, the weakest pace in two years and lower than economists’ expectation for 0.7%.

In the fourth quarter, the value of all goods and services used in production grew 1.4%.

But personal consumption, which makes up over two-thirds of output, was stronger than forecast. Together with housing investment, consumers held up the economy in the first three months of this year as weak business spending slowed it down.

Personal consumption rose 1.9%. It was expected to have slowed to 1.7%. And, core personal consumption expenditures was 2.1% quarter-on-quarter (estimated at 1.9%.)

The personal savings rate increased alongside spending, by 5.2% from 5% in the fourth quarter.

It may be too soon to read too much into all this data. There will be two more revisions of the data, and so all of this could change. Also, first-quarter GDP has averaged below other quarters for the last few years, causing some economists to question how the Commerce Department makes its seasonal adjustments.

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