U.S. 1st qtr economic growth revised down to 2.4% on slow exports

The U.S. economy expanded an annualized real 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013, slightly revised down from an earlier estimate, due mainly to slow exports and contractions in public expenditure that more than offset robust consumer spending, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The pace of economic growth, measured in terms of inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, in the January-March period undershot the average market projection. The revision showed the U.S. economy expanded for the 15th quarter in a row.

The overall economic growth figure in the first estimate announced last month was 2.5 percent. U.S. GDP grew 0.4 percent in the October-December period of 2012.

Personal consumption, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, increased 3.4 percent, the highest figure since the October-December period of 2010, when a 4.1 percent rise was recorded, on strong demand for durable goods such as automobiles and furniture as well as nondurable goods.

But the rate of export growth was down to 0.8 percent in the first quarter from 2.9 percent in the first estimate, the department said.

Meanwhile, the rate of import growth slowed to 1.9 percent, compared with 5.4 percent in the earlier estimate.

The decline in government expenditure in the January-March period widened to 4.9 percent, compared with the earlier estimated 4.1 percent, due partly to reduced defense spending.

Private investment in nonresidential items such as plant, equipment and software increased 2.2 percent, revised upward from an earlier estimated 2.1 percent.

The figures for GDP, which measures the total output of goods and services within a country's borders, will be updated once more in a final report next month.