The U.S. economy probably contracted again in the second quarter, pressured by a huge inventory liquidation, but the pace of decline likely slowed from previous periods, according to a Reuters survey.

While it would be the fourth straight quarter of declines in gross domestic product, analysts said it would be the last period of contraction, with the economy projected to start clawing out of the housing-led recession in the third quarter.

It would mark the first time that the economy has shrunk for four straight quarters since records dating back to 1947.

The Commerce Department will release its first, or advance, estimate of second-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) on Friday. It will also publish revisions dating back to 1929.

Analysts do not expect surprises but will scrutinize the report for evidence that the savings rate was much higher than first thought, which could signal that consumers are further along in the process of rebuilding lost wealth.

The survey of 72 analysts forecast GDP fell at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the April to June period after dropping by 5.5 percent in the first quarter.

Subdued demand is forcing manufacturers to cut production while working off excess stockpiles of unsold goods.

The decline in inventories lopped off 2.2 percentage points from first quarter GDP after subtracting 0.11 percentage points in the fourth quarter.

Analysts said the impact of the expected large drawdown in inventories on second quarter output would likely be mitigated by a slowdown in the rate of decline in other components of GDP, including residential investment.

An improved trade balance position and government spending are expected to make positive contributions.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity, probably slipped in the second quarter after rebounding in the January-March period, according to analysts.

But a recovery in the stock market and signs of house price stability could spur spending in the third quarter.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)