Economic growth slows to 2.4 percent rate in the fourth quarter

The economy expanded at a 2.4 percent annual pace in the final three months of the year, much slower than initially estimated. 

Persistent severe winter weather is being blamed for the slowdown in the fourth quarter, which cut into the rate of consumer spending, the Commerce Department reported on Friday in its second estimate. 

A month ago, gross domestic product figures showed that the economy had grown at a 3.2 percent rate in the October-December period, which was boosted by the previous estimate of a 3.3 percent increase in consumer spending. 

But Friday's report reflected a much slower 2.6 percent rate of consumer spending. Spending amounts to about 70 percent of economic activity and is a huge driver of growth. 

The economy didn't show many signs of breaking out of the doldrums last year, growing at only a 1.9 percent pace, down from 2.8 percent in 2012. 

But economists are saying that economic growth will accelerate this year with rising temperatures. 

Analysts are expecting growth of only 2 percent but that should pick up pace to average out to about 3 percent for the year.