The U.S. economy lost some steam during the first three months of the year. The Commerce Department said Friday that growth slowed to just 2.2 percent, down from 3 percent at the end of last year.
The good news was that the economy continued to grow during the first quarter of the year. But anyone who was waiting for growth to kick into a higher gear was disappointed once again. One reason for that was a slowdown in business investment — companies spent less on new equipment and software even though profits were surprisingly strong.
And in another sign that the labor market's recovery remains sluggish, the agency said "the 4-week moving average was 381,750, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500." That measure is said by economists to be a better gauge of the underlying trend in claims.
Orders for equipment, appliances, aircraft and other so-called durable goods fell 4.2 percent in March from February, the Census Bureau reports.
It's the second decline in the past three months and the biggest monthly dip in three years. Much of the drop in March was due to a decline in orders for aircraft. "But companies also ordered less machinery and other equipment, a sign manufacturing output may slow," The Associated Press writes.