US Economic Outlook

JERUSALEM--U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Wednesday that he expects strong economic data for the second half of the year after lackluster growth in the first quarter.

"After a harsh winter that restrained growth in the first quarter, we are still expecting the underlying strength of the economy that was evident last year to result in a strong second half of this year," Lew said in a speech in Jerusalem at a conference of the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group.

Lew said recent economic data supports his optimistic outlook. In May, the U.S. economy added 217,000 new jobs, after similar job growth in the previous three months, although unemployment in May remained flat at 6.3%. Inflation has also been picking up, with the consumer-price index rising 0.4% on the month in May.

In the first quarter, the U.S. economy grew just 1%. This recently caused the International Monetary Fund to cut its growth outlook for the U.S. economy in 2014 to 2% from 2.8%.

Lew's comments came hours before the U.S. Federal Reserve is scheduled to issue an outlook on the economy as well as comments on monetary policy.

Lew spoke along with Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid at an annual meeting of Israeli and American economists and policy makers.