The nation's gross domestic product, which had earlier been estimated to have fallen by 1.0% during the first quarter, was further revised downward to show a much larger drop of 2.9% for the weather-impacted initial period of 2014.

In all, the nation's real gross domestic product--the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States--fell at an annual rate of 2.9% in the opening period of this year. This was the third and final estimate of GDP for the quarter and was tabulated from more complete sources than the two earlier estimates.

The contraction in GDP in the period primarily reflected negative contributions from private inventory investment, exports, state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment. The main positive contributor to GDP growth of note was a modest gain in personal consumption expenditures.

Note that the next issuance of GDP will be for the second quarter. The initial results for that period will be issued by the Commerce Department on July 30th. Our current expectation is that second-quarter GDP will show a gain of about 3%. Ironically, the poorer first-quarter final result, including the weaker inventory figures, should help to underpin GDP in the now-concluding term, as those depleted stocks needed to be rebuilt.

Meanwhile, the fourth quarter-to-first quarter GDP swing was dramatic, with growth of 2.6% in the earlier stanza being countered by the aforementioned sharp decline of 2.9%.

As to some specifics in the latest report, real personal consumption expenditures increased by a token 1.0% in the opening term, versus a more substantial fourth-quarter gain of 3.3%. However, nonresidential construction fell by 1.2% in the latest period after having gained almost 6% late last year.

Obviously, this was a downbeat and disquieting report. However, much of this setback was the result of weather-related factors, as the winter chill and the heavy snows not only delayed purchases, construction, and trips to the mall, but also increased the costs of doing business and getting around. All of that diminished economic activity. We would expect things to change materially in the now-ending period, leading to the better anticipated GDP performance.

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.