Economy slows to 1.6 percent as trade gap widens

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By The Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy grew at a much slower pace this spring than previously estimated, mostly due to the largest surge in imports in 26 years and a slower buildup in inventories.

The Commerce Department says the nation's gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy's output — grew at a 1.6 percent annual rate in the April-to-June period. That's down from an initial estimate of 2.4 percent last month and much slower than the first quarter's 3.7 percent pace. Many economists had expected a sharper drop.

The economy has grown for four straight quarters, but that growth has averaged only 2.9 percent, a weak pace after such a steep recession. The economy needs to grow at about 3 percent just to keep the unemployment rate, currently 9.5 percent, from rising.