US growth rate revised higher

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The US economy grew at a faster pace than previously thought in the first three months of the year.

The US Commerce Department said the economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.4% in the January-to-March period.

The rate was an upward revision from the previous estimate of 1.2%, which itself was an increase from the original reading of 0.7%.

However, it still marks a slowdown from the final quarter of 2016, when the economy grew at a rate of 2.1%.

The latest growth figure was helped by an increased estimate for growth in consumer spending, which was revised up to a rate of 1.1% from 0.6%.

"The economy is expanding at a solid, if unspectacular pace," said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services.

Support for Fed

Growth estimates in the first quarter are often weak, a quirk some say is due to the difficulty of measuring the effect of seasonal changes.

Thursday's update bolsters the perspective of the Federal Reserve, which increased interest rates in June.

Policymakers at the time said they did not believe the slowdown in the first quarter was the start of a trend, pointing to one-off factors, including a relatively mild winter.

Stronger-than-expected trade figures published Wednesday also led some to predict better growth in the second quarter.

Even so, many say growth for the year is all but certain to fall short of the 3% goal outlined by US President Donald Trump. Mr Faucher forecasts growth around 2.2% for the year.

The International Monetary Fund this week cut its forecast for US economic growth, in part citing uncertainty over the chances for tax reform and infrastructure spending, policies that many say could provide an economic boost.

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