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The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate last quarter, sharply less than initially thought, in part because consumers didn't spend as much as initially estimated.Severe winter weather is expected to further slow the economy in the current quarter. The Commerce Department Friday reduced its estimate of economic growth in the October-December quarter from an initial 3.2 percent annual rate. The revised estimate of 2.4 percent annual growth is the weakest quarterly showing since the first quarter of 2013 .A key reason for the downgrade was that consumer spending is now estimated to have expanded at a 2.6 percent annual rate, below the initial estimate of 3.3 percent though still the strongest quarterly spending by consumers in nearly two years.Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that while she expects bad weather to limit this quarter's growth to a tepid annual rate of around 1.7 percent, she's looking for a solid rebound for the rest of the year.
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