STATE OF BUSINESS: The Half-Trillion Mark

The U.S. economy neared a historic peak during the first quarter: a half-trillion-dollar gross national product. While Government economists were still tallying the final figures. Commerce Secretary Frederick H. Mueller said last week that the total value of goods and services produced in the quarter that ended this week "reached the annual rate of close to half a trillion dollars."

The $16 billion gain from the $483.5 billion G.N.P. in the fourth quarter of last year, said Mueller, demonstrates not only the economy's recovery from the steel strike, but a "firm foundation of business strength." Not since the first quarter...

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