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Economy Grows at 0.7 Percent Rate

January 30, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. economy slowed dramatically in the final quarter of last year, growing at a annual rate of just 0.7 percent as consumers turned cautious in the face of war worries, a rollercoaster stock market and a stagnant job climate and increased their spending by the smallest amount since 1993.

The meager rise in gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2002 came after the economy grew at a respectable 4 percent rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

GDP measures the total value of goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the broadest barometer of the economy’s health.

The performance _ weaker than the 0.9 percent increase analysts were predicting _ gave the fourth quarter the distinction of being the worst quarter for GDP in 2002. It also marked the weakest showing since the economy actually shrank at a 0.3 percent rate in the third quarter of 2001 as the country was mired in its first recession in a decade.

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