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Winter storms expected to slow US economy slightly

WASHINGTON — The winter storms that are paralyzing the Midwest after battering the Northeast are likely to slow the U.S. economy only modestly, analysts say.

“Annoying as it all is, the effect on (growth) is going to be on the smaller side,” says David Resler, chief U.S. economist at Nomura Global Economics.

Economists who were surveyed last month by The Associated Press estimated the economy would grow at an annual pace of 3.4 percent in the first three months of 2011. Most aren’t ready to revise their forecasts to reflect a slowdown at airlines, retailers and other businesses.

“There has to be a negative effect,” says Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. But he thinks the weather will be only a “temporary depressant” for a steadily strengthening economy.