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Slower U.S. Growth In First Quarter Seen As Setback, Unemployment Claims Up

Exxon says production at the West Qurna Stage 1 oil field in Iraq should more than triple to 750,000 barrels a day in three years time. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jourani)

Exxon says production at the West Qurna Stage 1 oil field in Iraq should more than triple to 750,000 barrels a day in three years time. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jourani)

Economists are citing rising gasoline prices for cutting into consumer spending which slowed economic growth to 1.8% for January to March down from 3.1% for October to December of last year, a seemingly clear setback for the U.S. economy.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says gasoline prices will stabilize and the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of 3% for each of the next three quarters this year, but gasoline prices are still on the rise up 30 cents since the end of March.

At yesterday’s news conference, Bernanke said that home building and commercial construction were “very weak” in the first quarter.

Applications for unemployment compensation peaked during the recession at 659,000, but unemployment applications rose to 429,000 for the week ending April 23.

Bernanke says the depressed housing market is still the underlying cause of the slow recovery, even two years after the recession officially ended.

Exxon Mobil Corp. posted its largest profit in three years, with net income of $10.7 billion. Three years ago Americans were paying $4.11 at the pump for a gallon of gasoline.

Many including President Obama are calling for an end to gasoline and oil industry subsidies and want to invest that money into renewable energy resources….(continue reading on next page)

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