Economic growth slowed to a near-standstill in the first quarter of 2014, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday morning. Real gross domestic product grew by just 0.1 percent, failing to meet what were already low expectations for growth of just over 1 percent, and slowing from 2.6 percent in the previous quarter.
The slowdown likely reflects severe weather that depressed commerce in many U.S. states throughout the winter. While Wednesday's number comes as a disappointment, initial estimates of GDP growth are subject to significant revision. Fourth-quarter growth for 2013 was first reported as 3.2 percent, before being marked down to the more modest 2.6 percent rate.
The winter slowdown was largely attributable to decreased investment, including both business expenditures and housing. Exports also fell, by 7.6 percent on an annualized basis.
On the other hand, consumer spending grew 3 percent, a relatively strong number. One especially strong area for household spending was on health care services, which grew 9.9 percent on an annual basis, nearly twice the rate of anytime in the past three years.