Weather Impacted Consumer Spending, Economists Say

WASHINGTON (February 28, 2014) The slower-than-expected growth rate in the economy in the final quarter of 2013 can be linked in part to the bad weather in much of the country, economists say.

The weather cut into consumer spending on vehicles and other items, they say.

Economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Capital Markets said she expects the continued bad weather to limit growth in the current quarter to an annual rate of around 1.7 percent, but said she's looking for a solid rebound for the rest of the year.

She said there will be "pent-up demand" that will show up in the second quarter of the year.

The economy's growth rate of 2.4 percent in the last three months of 2013 was sharply lower than had been thought, but economists are finding encouragement in one aspect of the report.

The government's estimate of business investment was revised upward to an annual rate of 7.3 percent. That's the best quarterly showing in a year.

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