Real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.9% in the first quarter, based on a third estimate released by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis Friday. That is up from the department’s prior estimates of growth at 1.8% for the first three months of 2011. GDP is a comprehensive measure of all goods and services produced in the United States. First-quarter GDP growth was roughly in line with the most-recent analysts estimates but down significantly from the 3.1% growth in the fourth quarter. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected first-quarter GDP growth of 2% with a range of estimates between 1.8% and 2.2%. Earlier this week, the Federal Open Market Committee said the economic recovery is progressing slower than members expected. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also lowered the central bank’s GDP projections to growth of 2.7% to 2.9% for this year and 3.3% to 3.7% for 2012. In late April, the Fed projected growth of 3.1% to 3.3% for 2011. According to the latest government report, first-quarter GDP benefited from consumer spending, private inventory investments, exports and nonresidential fixed investment. However, those factors were offset by cuts in federal and state government spending. Imports during the period also increased. Real exports of goods and services rose 7.6% in the first quarter, down from an increase of 8.6% for the final three months of 2010. Meanwhile, real imports climbed 5.1% in the first quarter up from a decrease of 12.6% the prior quarter. Write to Kerri Panchuk.
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