March 28, 2016 / 3:28 PM / 3 years ago

Atlanta Fed sees first quarter U.S. GDP growth of less than 1 percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is growing at a pace below 1 percent in the first quarter following data that showed sluggish consumer spending and a large trade gap in February, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow forecast model showed on Monday.

The 0.6 percent annualized pace for U.S. gross domestic product seen for the first three months of 2016 was slower than the regional Fed’s prior estimate of 1.4 percent on March 24, the Atlanta Fed said on its website.

Earlier Monday, the Commerce Department said domestic consumer spending edged up 0.1 percent after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in January.

It also released an advance report on U.S. trade in February, which showed a trade deficit of $62.86 billion. This compared with a $62.23 billion trade gap in January.

The Atlanta Fed said its GDP forecast program revised its estimate on real consumer spending growth slowing to 1.8 percent in the first quarter from an earlier projection of 2.5 percent.

It also raised the amount of drag from trade on the GDP to 0.52 percentage point from an earlier 0.26 point.

On Friday, the Commerce Department upgraded its GDP reading in the fourth quarter of 2015 to an annual pace of 1.4 percent from 1.0 percent, led by an upwardly revised 2.4 percent growth in consumer spending. Exports fell 2.0 percent in the final quarter of last year, while imports slipped 0.7 percent.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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