WASHINGTON – The economy gained strength at the end of last year as Americans spent at the fastest pace in four years and U.S. companies sold more overseas. The growth is boosting hopes for a stronger 2011.
The Commerce Department reports Friday that growth rose to an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December quarter. That’s an improvement from the 2.6 percent growth in the previous quarter. And it was the best quarterly showing since the start of last year.
The economy has now consistently picked up speed since hitting a rough path in the spring.
For all of last year, the economy grew 2.9 percent, the most since 2005. It was an improvement from 2009 when the economy suffered its worst decline in more than 60 years, reflecting the recession’s damage.
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