Economy slowed sharply in first half of year

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy slowed in the first six months of 2011 to its weakest pace since the recession ended. High gas prices and scant income gains forced Americans to sharply pull back on spending.

The Commerce Department says the economy expanded only 1.3 percent in the April-June period. And it downwardly revised the January-March figures to show growth of just 0.4 percent, the weakest since the recession ended two years ago.

Consumer spending was almost flat this spring. It increased only 0.1 percent, after 2.1 percent growth in the winter. Spending on long-lasting manufactured goods, such as autos and appliances, fell 4.4 percent.

Government spending fell for the third straight quarter. And state and local governments cut spending for the seventh quarter in eight since the recession ended.