01/29/2011 11:16 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Economic Output Hits Pre-Recession Level

U.S. economic output finally regained the level reached before the recession, as growth sped up on stronger consumer spending and exports.

Gross domestic product--a broad measure of all goods and services produced--grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the government said Friday. That's up from the 2.6% pace notched the quarter before and confirms the view held by many economists and stock-market investors that the economy is gaining enough momentum to start bringing down unemployment in the months ahead.

The expansion in large part was fueled by a jump in consumer spending--a crucial change from earlier in the recovery, when growth relied heavily on businesses investing and building up inventories.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal