By CHIP CUTTER
NEW YORK – Stocks are falling after the government said the economy slowed in the first three months of this year.
The economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter. That’s the weakest showing since last spring when the European debt crisis reduced growth to a 1.7 percent pace. Higher prices for oil and gas have constrained consumer spending.
Separately, the government said more people applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week. The increase, the second in three weeks, suggests that the job market remains sluggish.
At the opening bell Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 13 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,678.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 is down 2, or 0.1 percent, at 1,354. The Nasdaq composite is down 7, or 0.2 percent, at 2,863.
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