The government’s official scorecard for the U.S. economy in the first quarter pointed to the weakest growth in three years, but the slowdown appeared tied to temporary effects that are likely to give way a rebound in the coming months. Gross domestic product increased at a meager 0.7% annual pace in the first three months of the year, down from 2.1% and 3.5% in the back half of 2016. Economists polled by

MarketWatch had forecast a 0.9% increase. In recent trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.17% and the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.18% fell slightly. The steep drop-off stemmed from the smallest increase in consumer spending since the end of 2009, largely reflecting fewer sales at car dealers. Consumer outlays rose just 0.3%, a steep drop from the 3.5% gain at the end of 2016. READ MORE