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The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years as it buckled under the weight of a severe winter, but there are signs activity has since rebounded.The Commerce Department Thursday slashed its GDP estimate to show the economy shrank at a 1.0 percent annual rate.GDP was initially estimated to have grown at a 0.1 percent rate.The economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter.Businesses accumulated $49 billion worth of inventories in the first three months of the year, far less than the $87.4 billion estimated in April.Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased at a 3.1 percent rate.
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