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Commerce Department revises fourth-quarter economic growth up to 3.1%

March 25, 2011 |  6:20 am

The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1% in the final three months of last year, up from an earlier estimate, the Commerce Department said.

The figure released Friday was roughly in line with economists' projections and the widely held view that the recovery, while still moderate, picked up some steam at the end of 2010. Economic growth in the third quarter of last year was 2.6% and had been just 1.7% in the second quarter of 2010.

Overall, the nation's economic output, or gross domestic product, increased 2.9% in 2010, a significant turnaround from 2009, when the economy shrank 2.6%, according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The final figure for fourth quarter growth is up from an earlier estimate of 2.8%, and closer to the original projection of 3.2%. The stronger growth was spurred by increased consumer spending, business investments in items such as computers, and more exports, the report said. Growth was further helped by a drop in imported goods.

Corporate profits rose in the fourth quarter to $1.68 trillion, from $1.64 trillion in the previous quarter, the report said. But after-tax profits went down to $1.37 trillion, from $1.42 trillion.

-- Jim Puzzanghera