US Economy

US economy probably shrank in Q1 after all: Moody's/CNBC survey

March trade deficit larger than expected

Economists now believe that the U.S. economy probably contracted slightly in the first quarter, according to a Moody's/CNBC survey.

The median of 10 economists' estimates suggests the economy shrank 0.3 percent in the first quarter, according to the CNBC Rapid Update survey. The results include the full impact of the weak trade data that came out earlier Tuesday.

The trade deficit surged in March to its highest level since late 2008, coming in much worse than the government assumed when it first posted Q1 GDP data.

The government reported last week that the economy grew an anemic 0.2 percent in the first quarter, a rate much lower than expectations.

Later this month, the Commerce Department will publish a revised figure. Even before Tuesday's data, though, economists in the survey were already expecting the revised figure to be no better than zero.

"Q1 likely contracted, thanks largely to Mother Nature and the ports disruption. And, if imports continue to rise, there is downside risk to Q2," BMO said in response to the survey.

—With reporting by CNBC's Steve Liesman