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US Economy Grew 0.1% During Last Three Months of 2012

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2012, according to the second estimate released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, a reverse from the 0.1 percent decline reported in the advance estimate last month.

Though Thursday's estimate is based on a more complete source of data, the "general picture of the economy for the fourth quarter remains largely the same as what was presented last month," according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential and residential fixed investments were some of the drivers of the GDP increase.  Imports also decreased.

The figure is still lower than the 0.5 percent increase many analysts had expected, according to Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics.

"While not negative any more, the weakness in Q4 GDP still looks grossly exaggerated," Sullivan wrote in a note to investors.

Other data, such as employment growth and the ISM indexes, suggest that the growth is at least 2 percent, or "perhaps better than that," he wrote.

"To some extent, the weakness in Q4 was payback for what may have been exaggerated strength in Q3 -- which shows a 3.1 percent pace and 3.5 percent excluding a drought adjustment," according to Sullivan.

He expects some "payback" in the first quarter of this year, forecasting 3 percent growth during the first three months of this year.

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