With the U.S. job market on the mend and inflation perking up, Federal Reserve officials have said that a stronger economy means it's time to nudge interest rates higher.
Unfortunately, the latest read on the overall economy isn't cooperating with that scenario.
The government reported Thursday that U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic growth, slowed to a crawl in the first three months of the year, expanding at an annual rate of just half a percent. Economists polled by Reuters had expected to see first-quarter growth come in at a 0.7 percent annual rate, after expanding at a 1.4 percent pace in the last three months of 2015.
Growth was dragged down by a range of forces, from slower spending by consumers and state and local governments to a cutback in businesses investing in new equipment. Much of that equipment spending shortfall came from the oil patch, where last year's plunge in crude prices forced a major contraction in new drilling.
It was the fastest slowdown in business outlays since the second quarter of 2009, at the bottom of the Great Recession.