January 31, 2008 / 10:25 AM / 10 years ago

White House plays down talk of recession

<p>President Bush speaks after he is given a tour of the Robinson Helicopter Factory in Torrance, California January 30, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House played down talk that the United States might be headed for a recession and said a report on fourth-quarter gross domestic product released earlier on Wednesday did not change its outlook.

“I have not heard at all that we have changed our outlook, and we are not forecasting a recession,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters traveling with President George W. Bush to California for the start of a tour of western states.

U.S. GDP in the fourth-quarter grew at a meager annual rate of 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department said. That reading was weaker than 1.2 percent rate forecast by private economists.

The report also said GDP increased by 2.2 percent in all of 2007, the slowest pace in five years.

Fratto also urged the U.S. Senate to move quickly to pass a $150 billion stimulus package aimed at boosting the economy.

“I think the only thing we can do is help remind them that America is expecting action and they are expecting it quickly and the only way for an economic growth package to have the desired impact is to do it quickly,” he said.

Reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Neil Stempleman

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