The U.S. economy picked up modestly in the spring after a lackluster start to the year, expanding at an annual 2.3% rate in the second quarter. Growth was led by consumer spending on big-ticket items such as new cars as well as home construction, the government said Thursday. [...] Consumer spending, the main engine of U.S. growth, rose 2.9%.
The weak economic readings to start both this year and last reflect two consecutive years of unusually bad winter weather in heavily populated parts of the country, combined with evidence that the formulas used to adjust for the normal seasonal variations may be creating a distorted picture regarding the January-through-March quarter. The real test for the economy is whether the first quarter will, as was the case last year, turn out to be an aberration, with a catch-up effect happening in the form of apparently strong growth in the spring and summer months.