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Business

US economy slows to weakest pace in a year

The US Commerce Department has revised up first-quarter GDP growth for the world's largest economy. But despite the improvement on the first estimate last month, output slowed in the January-March period.

The US economy grew at an annual rate of 0.8 percent in the first quarter, better than the 0.5 percent stated by the Commerce Department in its first estimate a month ago.

Despite the upward revision, the figure marked the second weak quarter in a row, following a modest 1.4-percent gain in the final three months of last year.

As the new year progressed, the economy was held back by turbulence in financial markets and was consequently hurt by a strong dollar and

sluggish global demand,

which eroded exports.

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Taking a look at the US economy

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In addition, low oil prices weighed on the economy, undercutting profits of oilfield companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton, forcing them to slash spending on equipment.

There was no change in consumer spending, accounting for more than two-thirds of US economic activity. Consumption increased by 1.9 percent, the report said.

What the upward revision did reflect, though, was a smaller drag from trade than previously reported as well as a rebound in after-tax corporate earnings.

After two sluggish quarters, there are signs the economy has been gaining momentum again with retail sales, exports, industrial production, home building and home sales all surging in April.

hg/cjc (AP, Reuters)

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