National

Apr 30, 2010 8:25 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Consumer spending likely drove growth in first quarter

When the Commerce Department releases its first quarter gross domestic product estimate this morning, economists are expecting it will show the economy is on the rebound thanks in part to America's shoppers. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters are estimating the economy grew at a 3.4 percent annual rate from January to March.

That would be the third straight quarterly gain. While consumers aren't spending with the abandon that's sparked past recoveries, they have begun to spend enough to keep the economy expanding. And there are other signals that the U.S. economy has turned a corner. Employers are creating jobs again, with a net total of 162,000 jobs added in March.

Manufacturers are boosting production. Consumer confidence is higher. And, first quarter earnings reports have shown a rising number of companies, from Ford and Whirlpool to UPS and Estee Lauder, are again turning a profit.

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