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U.S. economic output grew at a puny, seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter, down from a 2.6% pace in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the economy’s slowest expansion since the fourth quarter of 2012, which also saw 0.1% growth. Here are some highlights from the Commerce Department initial estimate of gross domestic product for the first three months of 2014:

Hey, Big Spender
Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic output, and it rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.3% in the fourth quarter. It slowed in the first quarter, but not much, growing at a 3% pace. Spending on goods slowed to a 0.4% pace, but spending on services – like health care and energy – rose to a 4.4% pace. Personal consumption expenditures were the single biggest boost to economic output in the first three months of the year, and helped offset big drags on growth like trade.

Businesses Close Their Checkbooks
Spending by businesses was another story. Fixed nonresidential investment fell at a 2.1% rate in the first quarter after surging 7.3% in 2012 and rising a more modest 2.7% in 2013. Spending on equipment fell at an annual pace of 5.5% in the first quarter of 2014, the worst drop since the second quarter of 2009, after rising at a 10.9% pace in the fourth quarter of 2013.

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