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U.S. Economy Slows Sharply in First Half of Year

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy expanded at meager rate of 1.3 percent annual rate in the spring after scarcely growing at all in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The combined growth for the first six months of the year was the weakest since the recession ended. The government revised the January-March figures to show just 0.4 percent growth – down sharply from its previous estimate of 1.9 percent.

High gas prices and scant income gains have forced consumers to pull back sharply on spending in the spring.

Stock futures fell after the report was released.

“These numbers are extremely bad,” said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight. “The momentum in the economy is clearly very weak.”

The sharp slowdown means the economy will likely grow this year at a weaker pace than last year. Economists don’t expect growth to pick up enough in the second half of the year to lower the unemployment rate, which rose to 9.2 percent last month.

http://hosted.ap.org…-07-29-08-31-33

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