WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy is emerging from hibernation after a bleak winter.
Consumers are ramping up spending, businesses are ordering more goods and manufacturers are expanding. The strengthening numbers show that harsh snowstorms and frigid cold in January and February were largely to blame for the economy's scant growth at the start of the year.
Growth appears to be picking up as the weather improves, and economists think the government on Friday will report a solid hiring gain in April exceeding 200,000 jobs.
"Harsh winter weather deferred, delayed and displaced but did not destroy economic activity," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.