The U.S. economy grew at a 4 percent annual pace in the second quarter, bouncing back strongly after contracting at a revised 2.1 percent clip between January and March, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

In its first of three estimates for quarterly gross domestic product growth, the government said consumer spending - which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity - grew 2.5 percent between April and June.

Second-quarter GDP growth exceeded the forecasts of most economists, who had predicted the economy would expand by 3.2 percent.

The first-quarter contraction was mostly weather-related, with repeated winter snowstorms disrupting economic activity in much of the country.

Wednesday's report showed an increase in construction spending, a sharp uptick in business investment, a notable rise in inventories, and slight growth in government spending.

Foreign trade, however, was a drag on the economy as imports rose 11.7 percent and exports climbed 9.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the price index for personal consumption expenditures, which the Federal Reserve closely tracks in setting monetary policy, rose 2.3 percent in the second quarter after increasing 1.4 percent in the previous three-month period. EFE