WASHINGTON—The coronavirus pandemic’s spread in the U.S. likely triggered the biggest quarterly economic contraction in over a decade, the start of what forecasters expect is an even steeper decline in the first half of 2020.

Economists expect first-quarter U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.5% in the first three months of the year. The Commerce Department is due to release its initial estimate of first-quarter…

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