U.S. Economy Grows At 3.2 Percent Annual Rate

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OBAMA ECONOMY
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama is expected to emphasize on healthcare, economic fairness and new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy with bipartisan cooperation. (Photo by Larry Downing-Pool/Getty Images) | Pool via Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.

The fourth-quarter increase followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter, when the economy was boosted by a buildup in business stockpiles.

The Commerce Department says that for 2013 as a whole, the economy grew a tepid 1.9 percent, below the 2.8 percent increase in 2012. Growth was held back last year by higher federal taxes and government spending cuts.

With that drag removed, many economists think growth could top 3 percent in 2014, which would be the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009.

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