(NEWSER) – The US economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year as a harsh winter exacted a toll on business activity. The sharp slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather. The economy's growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1% annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said today. That's the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and is down from a 2.6% growth rate in the October-December quarter. Economists had been predicting a 1.1% rise. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew at a 3% rate, but the gain was dominated by a 4.4% rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills.