Washington, April 28 (IANS/EFE) The US economy grew 2.2 percent in the first three months of this year after expanding 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the US Commerce Department said Friday.
The first of the department's three estimates of first-quarter gross domestic product fell short of the 2.7 percent increase expected by most analysts.
Consumer spending, which drives nearly 70 percent of US economic activity, climbed by a larger than expected 2.9 percent in the January-March period.
Despite the slowing in early 2012, the economy enjoyed its best back-to-back quarters since July 2009, when the US began emerging from its worst slump since the Great Depression.
The Federal Reserve said this week it expects US GDP to expand by between 2.4 percent and 2.9 percent this year, a modest upward revision of the Fed's January forecast.
Fed economists predict GDP growth in 2013 in a range of 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent.
The US economy created 120,000 net new jobs in March and the unemployment rate crept down from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent.
The number of new jobs was shy of analysts' expectations and well below the level of 200,000-plus over the preceding three months, while the slight fall in the jobless rate appeared to reflect a decline in the ranks of those looking for work.
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