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Larry Fink: US economy is being hurt by congressional gridlock and Trump's immigration policy

BlackRock chief Larry Fink told CNBC on Thursday that in talking with other business leaders he's finding they're "stepping back" until they see "real economic growth."

"There are weaknesses in this economy that are surprising people," he said on "Squawk Box." He predicts first-quarter economic growth below 1.5 percent.

"If you talk to the people in the hotel industry, there is a weakness right now" due to fewer tourists in the United States, Fink said, blaming President Donald Trump's immigration policy for making people from some parts of the world feel unwelcome.

"There's [also] a drop of 20 to 40 percent of foreign applications to our universities," said Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world's biggest money manager with $5.1 trillion in assets under management.

Gridlock in Congress — most recently evident in the recent failure of House Republicans to get enough support for their Obamacare replacement bill — is also contributing to uncertainty, Fink said.

The stock market would have some "setbacks" if Trump and GOP leaders are unable to deliver on the promises of broad tax reform and "true deregulation," said Fink, a member of the president's Strategy and Policy Forum, an advisory group of CEOs chaired by Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman.

Read more from Fink's interview:

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