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Consumer, business spending to drive U.S. in 2011

Consumer, business spending to drive U.S. in 2011 (by Chris Oliver)

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. economy is poised to expand this year at its fastest pace since 2003, helped by strong spending by business and consumers, according to a survey of economists reported Monday in The Wall Street Journal. Many of those surveyed had lifted their economic-growth forecasts because of recent reports suggesting a greater willingness to spend, the report said. The survey found economists expect gross domestic product will be 3.5% higher in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in the year-earlier quarter, up from the 3.3% increase they projected in last month's survey, and putting things on track for the biggest expansion since 2003, the report said. The economy is expected to grow a 3.6% annual rate in the current quarter, picking up its pace of a 3.2% growth in the final months of 2010. Joblessness was expected to be around 8.6% at the end of this year, down from the 9% in January, but still high by historical standards, the report said. Fifty-one economists were polled in the survey, not all of whom answered every question, the report said.