U.S. economy stumbles in first quarter as weather, low energy prices weigh

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Containers await departure as crews load and unload consumer products at the Port of New Orleans along the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Louisiana

BY LUCIA MUTIKANI

U.S. economic growth nearly stalled in the first quarter as harsh weather dampened consumer spending and energy companies struggling with low prices slashed spending.
Gross domestic product expanded at an only 0.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. That was a big step down from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent pace and marked the weakest reading in a year.
A strong dollar and a now-resolved labor dispute at normally busy West Coast ports also slammed growth, the government said.

While there are signs the economy is pulling out of the soft patch, the lack of a vigorous growth rebound has convinced investors the U.S. Federal Reserve will wait until late this year to start hiking interest rates.
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