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U.S. Economy Grew At A Faster Pace Than Earlier Thought

A shopper makes a purchase at the J.C. Penney store in North Riverside, Ill., Nov. 17. U.S. consumer spending grew in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in three years.
A shopper makes a purchase at the J.C. Penney store in North Riverside, Ill., Nov. 17. U.S. consumer spending grew in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in three years.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the final three months of 2017, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That's slightly faster than the previous 2.5 percent growth estimate, but slower than the 3.2 percent pace of the third quarter.

Overall, the economy grew 2.3 percent last year, compared with 1.5 percent in 2016. That's well below the 3 percent or higher that the Trump administration is targeting.

The solid fourth quarter was fueled by strong consumer spending, which grew 4 percent — its fastest pace in three years. Gross domestic product growth would have been even faster if consumers hadn't spent so much on imports, which subtract from domestic growth.

Economists say growth is expected to slow in the current quarter but speed up later this year, boosted by tax cuts and higher government spending.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economic outlook has strengthened in recent months. He cited the stimulus offered by the big tax-cutting bill and said "ongoing job gains are boosting incomes and confidence," while global economic growth "is on a firm trajectory."

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