(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter as a ballooning trade deficit and softer inventory growth belied an otherwise solid consumer and business demand picture.

Gross domestic product fell at a 1.4% annualized rate after a 6.9% pace of growth at the end of 2021, the Commerce Department’s preliminary estimate showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a 1% increase. 

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Still, real final sales to domestic purchasers, a measure of underlying demand that strips out the trade and inventories components of GDP, increased an annualized 2.6%, an improvement from the 1.7% pace in the fourth quarter.

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