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U.S. growth tapers off to 1.5% in second quarter

U.S. growth tapers off to 1.5% in second quarter (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. economy grew 1.5% in the second quarter, down from 2% in the prior period, as consumers and businesses spent at a slower rate, according to a preliminary government estimate. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch projected gross domestic product would rise by 1.3%. Consumer spending climbed 1.5% compared to a 2.4% increase in the first quarter. Business investment in nonresidential structures rose by 5.3% vs. a 7.5% increase in the first quarter. Inventory spending rose to an estimated $66.3 billion last quarter after a $56.9 billion gain, the Commerce Department reported. Government spending at all levels fell by a combined 1.4%. Exports rose 5.3% while imports climbed 6.0%. Real final sales in the U.S., which exclude imports and inventories, was halved to a 1.2% increase. Inflation as measured by the consumer PCE index dropped to 1.6% from 2.4%. Excluding food and energy, the index rose 1.8% compared to 1.9% in the first quarter. Real disposable income rose 3.2% in quarter and the personal savings rate climbed to 4.0%. Growth in the first quarter was revised to 2.0% from 1.9% and the fourth quarter of 2011 was revised up to 4.1% from 3.0%.