US Growth Likely to have Picked Up in First Quarter

The biggest gain in U.S. consumer spending in two years probably helped the world’s largest economy accelerate in the first quarter and housing made further progress, economists said reports this week will show.

Gross domestic product rose at a 3.1 percent annual rate after expanding at a 0.4 percent pace in the final three months of 2012, according to the median forecast of 67 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of Commerce Department data due April 26.  Sales of new and previously owned houses climbed, other reports may show.

The expansion picked up as rising stock prices and home values boosted household wealth, helping Americans weather an increase in the payroll tax. Recent data indicate the strength may not be sustained as the reduction in take-home pay begins to pinch and across-the-board cuts in planned federal spending start to weigh on the job market and corporate investment.


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