WASHINGTON - U.S. economic growth slowed in the first few months of 2016, as the world's largest economy expanded a meager one-half of one percent annual rate.
Thursday's report from the Commerce Department says the new data shows growth was much slower than the last quarter of last year.
PNC Bank Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman says the housing market helped growth, but not enough to off-set falling business investment, and slowing exports.
Strong dollar hurts exports
Weak demand overseas coupled with the strong dollar were factors in declining exports. The strong dollar means U.S.-made goods are relatively expensive on global markets, which hurts sales.
Business investment was hurt as falling oil prices prompted energy companies to cut expansion.
Some analysts expect growth to speed up later in the year, and this first estimate of the U.S. growth rate is scheduled for two revisions in the next few months.
The growth data comes one day after the U.S. central bank held interest rates steady at a fairly low level. Low interest rates were put in place during the financial crisis to boost economic growth.