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Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 14:17 GMT


Business: The Economy

US economy remains buoyant

US economy surges on

The US economy continues to defy global economic turmoil and is growing faster than economists predicted.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 5.6% in the last quarter of 1998, faster than the rate of 3.7% recorded in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.

This is the strongest pace of quarterly growth since the second quarter of 1996, and was much stronger than the 4.8% that had been expected.

For the whole of last year, the economy grew at a rate of 3.9%, the same as in 1997.

Consumer spending rose 4.8% in 1998, its strongest increase since 1984.

Inflation, as measured by the GDP price index, rose 1%, down from 1.9% in 1997. This is the smallest price increase since 1950.

Consumers lead the way


[ image: Growth figures were put down to increased spending on durable goods]
Growth figures were put down to increased spending on durable goods
The acceleration of growth was put down to an increase in personal spending on durable goods, a rise in exports, and higher business investment.

Growth was offset by rising imports, decreased personal spending for services, and a downturn in inventory investment.

The trade deficit cut fourth quarter GDP by 0.3 percentage points after cutting the figure by 0.62 percentage points in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said this was the smallest drag caused by the trade deficit since the fourth quarter of 1996.



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