Continued from page 1

But the Obama administration effectively pushed back the deadline for individuals to purchase health insurance to March 31 from January 1, prompting the department on Wednesday to publish revised figures that showed consumer spending actually lost momentum during the winter and grew at only a 1 percent rate.

Many economists now expect the surge in health-related spending to show up in the spring and turbocharge growth in that quarter, which ends June 30.

The revision to consumer spending was responsible for 1.4 percentage points of the 1.9 percentage point downward revision in estimated growth, the department said. Also subtracting 1.7 percentage points from the growth rate was an overaccumulation of inventories by U.S. businesses, which had to be run off during the quarter, it said.

Economists were put off by the missed estimates on health care spending. Doug Handler, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, called it “a bit worrisome” and said further fluctuations related to Obamacare can be expected in the future.

But “since this volatility is not business cycle-related, its impact should be heavily discounted in assessing the general health of the economy,” he said.

In his view, “the recessionlike quarter was adversely affected by the weather and an unusually large drop in inventory growth, which is a correction from the last half of 2013,” he said. “Neither of these factors persisted in the second quarter, and we expect to see a rebound in growth to the 3.5-to-4.0-percent range.”

Export and investment dips

Exports and business investment also were strong negatives for the winter economy, falling by 8.9 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, the department found. Net exports subtracted 1.5 percentage points from the growth rate, it said. And housing investment plummeted for the second straight quarter, this time by 4.2 percent.

Also weighing on the economy, state and local governments continued their retrenchment, cutting spending by 1.7 percent. Just about the only parts of the economy that were able to generate much growth were federal nondefense spending, which shot up by 5.9 percent, and business spending on software and other intellectual property, which jumped by 6.3 percent.

“The highest reasonable estimate for the weather impact in the first quarter wouldn’t be near as large as -2.9 percentage points, so there was clearly more going on,” said Ted Wieseman, economist at Morgan Stanley. “In particular, it looks in retrospect like the adds from inventories and trade in the second half of last year were substantially overstated, and that was corrected in a big way in the first quarter,” he said.

“Inventories are poised to swing to a positive contribution in the second quarter, and trade should be a significantly smaller drag, while underlying private domestic demand has accelerated significantly as weather drags have reversed,” he said, predicting a growth rebound of 4 percent this spring.