US ECONOMY EXPANDS AT 0.4 PERCENT RATE

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster but still anemic rate at the end of last year. However, there is hope that growth accelerated in early 2013 despite higher taxes and cuts in government spending.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the October-December quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was slightly better than the previous estimate of 0.1 percent growth. The revision reflected stronger business investment and export sales.

Analysts think the economy is growing at a rate of around 2.5 percent in the current January-March quarter, which ends this week.

Steady hiring has kept consumers spending this year. And a rebound in company stockpiling, further gains in housing and more business spending also likely drove faster growth in the first quarter.

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