NEW YORK - Prospects for US growth have dimmed only slightly for the first part of next year, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, suggesting the economy will maintain its slow, steady plod despite global and domestic headwinds.

These include a recession in Europe, a slowdown in China and more restrictive fiscal policy at home.

Economists lowered their median growth forecasts to an annualized 1.6 percent for the first quarter of 2013 compared with 1.7% last month, the poll of more than 70 respondent found, and to 2.1% for the second quarter from 2.3 percent.

The slower growth outlook reflects some drag from the so-called fiscal cliff - deep automatic reductions in government spending, unless Congress agrees to a debt-and-deficit reduction package.

Most economists in the poll said, however, that Congress would act to avoid the crisis.

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