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U.S. economy shrank 2.9% in Q1 GDP; U.S. loosens ban on oil exports; Google I/O developer conference

The economy contracted more sharply than predicted in the first quarter. GDP shrank 2.9% in the quarter, more than the 1.8% decline that analysts were expecting, and much more than the previous estimate of -1.0%. It was the worst first quarter in five years and the biggest difference between second and third GDP estimates since 1976. The decline was due to less spending on healthcare and a decline in exports.

Durable goods orders also unexpectedly fell. The Commerce Department said orders fell 1.0% in May. That was much more than the 0.4% growth analysts were expecting. The drop was mainly due a drop in demand for military hardware.

The U.S. will begin allowing companies to export un-refined U.S. oil for the first time in four decades. The Wall Street Journal reported that Commerce Department is allowing two companies - Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) - to export lightly-processed oil to foreign buyers. Up until now, companies could only export refined fuel, like gasoline, but needed special permission to export oil to other countries.

That brings us to today's poll question. Should the U.S. lift the ban on crude oil exports? Vote in our poll, or leave a comment below or on Twitter.

The Google (GOOGL) I/O developer conference kicks-off today. The company is expected to debut a TV set-top box according to The Wall Street Journal. The device will let users play games, and watch movies and other content. Google is also expected to debut a smartwatch, and give more details about getting its Android operating system into cars. The conference will begin with a keynote at Noon Eastern today.

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