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Ahead Of The Bell: US Unemployment Benefits

The economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the October-December quarter, hurt by a sharp cut in defense spending, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles. That was much worse than the 3.1 percent growth recorded in the July-September period.

But economists predict that the October-December growth figure will be revised Thursday to show a small increase, after exports jumped unexpectedly in December. Economists now forecast that the government will report a fourth quarter expansion of 0.5 percent.

Growth will likely pick up a bit in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of 1.5 percent, analysts forecast. That's better than the fourth quarter but below last year's expansion of 2.2 percent.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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