Economists Predict Growth Spurt for U.S.

The National Association for Business Economics says its survey of 53 economists predicts growth of about 4.5 percent in the first quarter. The economists also say the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates two more times before this summer.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Some predictions, now, about the U.S. economy. The National Association of Business Economics polled a panel of 53 economists and is out with a report today on their thinking.

They expect the economy to grow, in the first quarter of this year, by about four and a half percent. That's up considerably from the just over one percent growth posted in the final three months of last year.

The panel says the numbers mean the economy is overcoming the effects of last year's hurricanes and ever-higher oil prices, even as it warned that rising energy costs are the biggest threat to expansion. As for interest rates, the economists expect this stronger growth will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at least twice more this year.

In the second half of the year, economic growth is expected to slow, so the annual rate of growth this year should turn out to be a moderate 3.3 percent, just about what it was last year.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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