US growth slowed in the first three months of 2011 to an annualized rate of 1.8%, which is a 0.4% quarterly rise, the Commerce Department said. This compares with an annualized increase rate of 3.1% in the final three months of 2010. The hold back was blamed on corporate profits randomly contracting for the first time in more than two years.

Many forecasters had been expecting the increase figure to be amended upwards to about 2%. US GDP is expressed as an annualized rate, or annual pace, which shows what the three months’ economic activity would mean if it carried on for a year.

Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US GDP, was amended down from 2.7% to 2.2%. That was balanced by an upward revision to the amount of money businesses were spending on replenishing, which was increased from $43.8billion to $52.2billion.