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The American economy slowed its pace of expansion in the fourth quarter.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 per cent annual rate in the October-December quarter, significantly slower than first thought, reflecting slower consumer spending than initially estimated.

The severe winter weather is expected to slow growth further in the current quarter, but as the snows melt, economists believe growth will rebound.

The Commerce Department says the downward revision from an initial 3.2 per cent estimate for the fourth quarter primarily reflected a downgrade in consumer spending, which is now estimated to have expanded at 2.6 per cent rate, still the best showing in nearly two years. But it is below the previous 3.3 per cent estimate.

For all of 2013, the economy grew at a lacklustre 1.9 per cent, but analysts expect growth will rebound in 2014, possibly as high as 3 per cent.