Business investment in plant and equipment increased 3.2%, the fifth consecutive quarterly expansion. Investment in machinery and equipment rose 3.7% in the quarter. Business inventories accumulated, contributing to the growth in overall business investment.
Exports grew 1.6% in the first quarter, following a 2.1% increase in the fourth quarter of 2010. Imports rose 2.2%, after edging down 0.1% in the previous quarter.
All major industrial sectors, except for retail trade and arts, entertainment and recreation, increased their output in the first quarter. Goods production rose 1.8% while service-producing industries increased 0.7%. Manufacturing as well as mining and oil and gas extraction were the largest contributors to growth. Construction, transportation and wholesale trade also recorded notable increases.
Expressed at an annualized rate, real GDP in the first quarter grew 3.9%, after expanding 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010.