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US economy shows some muscle, housing still weak

Published on Mar 28, 2014 3:43 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US economy grew a bit faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter and new claims for jobless aid dropped to a near four-month low last week, suggesting the economy has plenty of momentum to break out of its winter chill.

Housing, however, will probably take a while to escape from its recent slump as contracts to buy previously owned homes fell to their lowest level in almost 2-1/2 years in February.

Still, economists said on balance the data on Thursday presented a better growth picture. "The economy looks in a better place than it did just 24 hours ago," said Chris Rupkey, an economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 per cent annual rate in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department said, up from the 2.4 per cent pace it reported last month.

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