WASHINGTON — Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 1.8% in the first quarter of 2013, according to the final estimate released by the Commerce Department Wednesday.

The GDP growth was far less robust than the 2.4% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but was stronger than the 0.4% uptick reported in the final quarter of 2012. The preliminary estimate released in May pegged first quarter growth at 2.4%.

Few observers expected more than a slight revision to the previous estimate. The final estimate is based on more complete data than either the advance or preliminary estimates released in previous months.

Personal consumption expenditures increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the first quarter, after rising at a 1.8% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012. The previous estimate had PCE rising 3.4% in the quarter.

Exports of goods and services fell 1.1%, a sharp downward revision from the 0.8% increase reported in the preliminary estimate. Imports, which are a subtraction from GDP, decreased 0.4% in the first quarter of 2013, downwardly revised from a 1.9% jump reported in the preliminary estimate.

The overall GDP increase over the fourth quarter of the previous year reflected a rise in private inventory investment, the acceleration of PCE, and residential fixed investment, the Commerce Department said.

Those factors were partly offset by a decline in federal government spending, which dropped 8.7%. Decreased levels of state and local government spending, which fell 2.1%, were also negative factors for the GDP.

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