WASHINGTON (AP) — After a dismal start to the year reflecting a harsh winter, the U.S. economy showed signs of rebounding in the spring, with many forecasters expecting growth to be even stronger in the second half of the year.
The government on Wednesday will provide its first estimate of how much the gross domestic product — the economy's total output of goods and services — grew in the April-June quarter. The consensus forecast is that the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.
That would mark a dramatic rebound from the January-March period, when the economy shrank at an annual rate of 2.9 percent. It was the biggest contraction since the depths of the recession five years ago.
Normally, such a plunge in economic activity would arouse fears about a recession. But analysts have largely dismissed this year's stumble as the result of a set of adverse developments that should be temporary.
The biggest culprit: An unusually severe winter, which depressed consumer spending by keeping shoppers away from malls and auto showrooms and disrupted other activities such as factory production.
With warmer weather, consumer spending is expected to recover. The economy should also get a boost from stronger residential activity, less of a cutback in business stockpiling and a rebound in business capital spending on new equipment.
"The economy is bouncing back from a terrible first quarter," said Brian Bethune, an economics professor at Tufts University.
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