Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

US economy sees quicker decline

A construction worker on a new residential and commerical building construction site in Los Angeles
The contraction was not as bad as some had feared

The US economy shrank at a faster pace than previously estimated in the final three months of 2008.

US GDP contracted at an annualised rate of 6.3%, worse than a previous estimate of 6.2%. The rate of decline was the steepest since early 1982.

For 2008 as a whole, the economy expanded 1.1% in 2008, the weakest rate of growth since 2001.

However recent data has been less downbeat, with improved home sales and factory orders.

Economists had been expecting an even sharper contraction of 6.5%.

"I think people realise the economy seemingly fell off the cliff in the fourth quarter," said Doug Bender, managing director of McQueen, Ball & Associates, pointing out that the decline has continued this year.

"The question now is, will you see a moderation in bad news?"

Growth has disappeared as consumers stopped spending and corporate profits plunged.

US exports have also taken a hit.

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