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US Economy Grew Faster Than Predicted

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The U.S. economy grew faster than earlier thought during the last few months of 2010.

Friday's report from the Commerce Department says the gross domestic product (GPD) expanded at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the last quarter of 2010.  

That is three-tenths of a percentage point faster than an earlier estimate.  Experts routinely revise their estimates as new data becomes available.

The GDP is the broadest measure of the economy, and takes account of all goods and services produced in a nation.

For all of 2010, the U.S. GDP expanded 2.9 percent, the most in 5 years.

Some economists say growth may slow this quarter as rising oil prices take up money that otherwise might have boosted demand for other goods and services.  

They are also trying to calculate how much Japan's tsunami and nuclear problems will hurt U.S. growth.  Some Japanese factories that normally produce parts for cars, electronics and aircraft are shut down, causing production problems for factories in many nations, including the United States.

Worries about the impact of Japan's problems on the U.S. economy and rising fuel prices are among the reasons consumers grew more pessimistic in March.  Friday's report from the University of Michigan shows an index of consumer sentiment declined to the lowest level in more than one year.  

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