Economy’s stumble in first quarter historic

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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) —The U.S. economy contracted by 2.9% in the first quarter, marking the biggest drop since early 2009 when the Great Recession was winding down, according to newly revised government figures.

The chief reason: Americans spent less than originally assumed, mainly on health care. A bigger drop in U.S. exports, higher imports and a smaller buildup in inventories also contributed to the steeper decline in gross domestic product.

The economy previously was estimated to have shrunk 1% in the first three months of the year, a period marked by unusually harsh winter weather that clogged roads, closed workplaces and kept many employees and shoppers home. Cold weather costly in first quarter.

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