Stronger consumer spending nudged U.S. economic growth forward at a brisker pace than first thought in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said today.

The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output within U.S. borders, grew at a revised 1.9 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, a revision upward from 1.6 percent estimated a month ago. The first-quarter expansion exceeded the 1.4 percent rate of growth posted in the fourth quarter of last year.

The report said consumer spending grew at a 2 percent rate in the first quarter instead of the 1.4 percent it reported a month ago -- a key reason for the upward revision in GDP performance since consumers drive about two-thirds of economic growth through their purchases of goods and services.