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U.S. economy weakens sharply in first quarter

U.S. economy weakens sharply in first quarter (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. economy decelerated in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Real gross domestic product rose at a 1.8% annualized rate in the first quarter, down from a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter. The big story for the first quarter was the slowdown in consumer spending. Real estate and government sectors also dampened growth. At the same time as the economy slowed, inflation accelerated. The personal consumption expenditure index rose 3.8% in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2008. The core personal consumption index rose 1.5%, the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2009.