The American economy turned in a weaker annual performance last year than in 2018, held back by developments that set the stage for slower growth to come. Gross domestic product — which measures the value of goods and services produced inside the United States — grew at a 2.1 percent annual rate between October and December, the same as the previous three months, according to preliminary data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday. A shrinking trade deficit resulting from a steep falloff in imports helped bolster the fourth quarter’s reading, as did a revived housing sector. Consumer spending expanded, but at a slower pace than during the summer. Year-over-year growth was 2.3 percent in 2019, compared with 2.5 percent a year earlier. “In the bigger picture on 2019, growth was solid,” said Matthew Luzzetti, chief United States economist for Deutsche Bank Securities. But he said a key element, […]