Futures fall, US economic growth misses view

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures slipped Friday with the nation’s economic growth during the first quarter coming in a bit weaker than economists had expected.

Consumer spending, which drives a huge portion of the economic activity in the U.S., was back in force, however, and partially offset a pullback in government spending.

Dow Jones industrial futures fell 46 points to 14,607. S&P futures gave up 4.7 points to 1,577. Nasdaq futures fell 11 points to 2,833.

The overall economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter. That’s a solid rebound from the lethargic 0.4 percent growth rate seen in the final three months of last year.

While overall economic growth was not a strong as the 3.1 percent that economists had expected, the re-emergence of the consumer was a surprise, given higher taxes and a very slow recovery in the job market.

The report from the Commerce Department on Friday revealed the strongest consumer spending in two years.

Hiring has been spotty, however, and many economists expect spending to tail off somewhat in the current quarter.

That is why there is so much attention being paid this quarter to the health of retailers as they post quarterly earnings.

On Friday, Burger King posted a mixed report. The burger chain saw profits more than double, but comparable store sales fell 3 percent in the U.S. and Canada.

That follows a report last week from rival McDonald’s, which also saw a decline in same-store sales.

And earlier this week shares of Procter & Gamble, the maker of everything from Tide detergent to Crest toothpaste, fell sharply after the company’s outlook fell short of Wall Street expectations.

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