Q4 GDP accelerates to 3.2% pace from 2.6% in Q3 (by Greg Robb)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. economy accelerated in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Real gross domestic product rose at a 3.2% annualized rate in the fourth quarter, up from a 2.6% rate in the third quarter. The gain was slightly below expectations. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected Q4 GDP to rise at a 3.5% rate. The big story for the fourth quarter was the pickup in consumer spending. Spending rose at a 4.4% annual rate in the final three months of the year, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2006. Inventories were a big drag on growth in the fourth quarter but this was largely offset by a positive contribution from net exports. For the year, GDP advanced 2.9%, compared with a 2.6% drop in 2009. This is the strongest growth rate in five years.