By Minami Funakoshi and Matt Spetalnick HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - Barack Obama on Friday became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing, in a gesture Tokyo and Washington hope will showcase their alliance and reinvigorate efforts to rid the world of nuclear arms. The two governments hope Obama's visit to Hiroshima, where a U.S. atomic bomb killed thousands instantly on Aug. 6, 1945, and some 140,000 by the year's end, underscores a new level of reconciliation and tighter ties between the former enemies. "We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past," Obama said after laying a wreath at a Hiroshima peace memorial.
U.S. economic growth slowed in the first quarter although not as sharply as initially thought, as a surge in home building and steady inventory accumulation partially offset the drag from a steep decline in business investment. Economists said strong income growth, together with signs the economy was picking up steam in the second quarter, could give the Federal Reserve the ammunition to raise interest rates as early as next month. The U.S. central bank increased rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.