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Associated Press
A worker assembles construction supplies at Northeast Building Products in Philadelphia. After a bleak start to the year, the U.S. economy grew at a brisk annual rate of 4.2 percent in the April-June quarter, the government said Thursday.

Economy hums at a brisk 4.2%

April-June pickup had been forecast after winter slump

WASHINGTON – After a bleak start to the year, the U.S. economy grew at a brisk annual rate of 4.2 percent in the April-June quarter, the government said Thursday, slightly faster than it had first estimated.

The upward revision supported expectations that the second half of 2014 will prove far stronger than the first half.

The Commerce Department’s second estimate of growth for last quarter followed its initial estimate of 4 percent. The upward revision reflected stronger business investment than first thought.

The seasonally adjusted 4.2 percent annual growth rate for the gross domestic product – the nation’s total output of goods and services – came after the economy had shrunk at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter. That was the economy’s biggest drop since the depths of the last recession, and it reflected mainly the effects of a harsh winter that kept consumers away from shopping malls and disrupted factory production.

Many economists say they expect growth of around 3 percent in the current July-September quarter and for the rest of the year.

The government’s upwardly revised estimate of business investment last quarter showed capital spending growing at an annual rate of 8.4 percent last quarter. That was sharply higher than the government’s initial 5.5 percent estimate.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the strength in business investment has likely extended into the current quarter, lending support to the economy.

In its second estimate of growth for last quarter, the government said companies’ restocking of supplies contributed less than it had first estimated. But a higher trade deficit subtracted less from growth than initially estimated.

The downward revision in inventory building will likely help boost growth in the current quarter because it means that businesses may need to restock their supplies to meet demand.

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