Economy Grew Slightly Faster 1.9 Pct. in Q1

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The U.S. economy is stronger than expected after the first quarter of the year, but economists say the growth is still weak.

The Commerce Department on Friday said the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the January-March quarter. That's not much better than the 1.8 percent rate estimated a month ago.

An economic growth of 3 percent or better is generally what's necessary to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

High gas prices were a major reason growth slowed. Those prices have carried over into to the current quarter. The economy is growing in the current April-June quarter at a rate of about 2.3 percent, according to an Associated Press survey of 38 top economists.

There are signs that some of the factors that slowed the economy are starting to ease. The average price for a gallon of gas has fallen nearly 40 cents since peaking at nearly $4 last month.

The Federal Reserve also expects stronger growth in the coming months, although it has lowered its growth estimate for this year to a range of 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent.

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