The U.S. economy slowed sharply at the start of the year as businesses slashed investment, exports tumbled and consumers showed signs of caution, marking a return to the uneven growth that has been a hallmark of the nearly six-year economic expansion.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at a 0.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The economy advanced at a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter and 5% in the third.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected growth of 1% in the first three months of this year.
The first-quarter figures repeat a common pattern in recent years: one or two strong readings followed by a big slowdown. Before this year, first-quarter GDP growth had averaged 0.6% since 2010 and 2.9% for all other quarters. That has worked out to moderate overall expansion but no sustained breakout for the economy.
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