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Economy’s growing, but not as fast as originally thought

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at a modest 2.4 percent annual rate from January through March, slightly slower than initially estimated. Consumer spending was stronger than first thought, but businesses restocked more slowly and state and local government spending cuts were deeper.

The Commerce Department said today that economic growth in the first quarter was only marginally below the 2.5 percent rate estimated last month. That’s still faster than the 0.4 percent growth during the October-December quarter.

Economists believe growth is slowing to around a 2 percent rate in the April-June quarter, as the economy adjusts to federal spending cuts, higher taxes and further global weakness. Still, many say the decline may not be as severe as once thought. That’s because solid hiring, surging home prices and record stock gains should keep consumers spending.