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Slow But Better Than Thought: 4th Quarter GDP Revised Up Again

The U.S. economy grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2012, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning.

That's better than both of the earlier estimates of how the economy was doing as the year ended. The bureau initially thought gross domestic product dipped at a 0.1 percent rate the last three quarters of the year. Then it said there was growth at a 0.1 percent annual rate. Now, in its final scheduled revision of the fourth-quarter data, it has settled on growth at a 0.4 percent pace.

"Nonresidential fixed investment [was] higher than previously estimated," the bureau says. Or as Bloomberg News puts it, there was a "bigger gain in business spending" than previously thought.

Although the quarter's pace has been revised upward, the 0.4 percent growth is still the lowest for any three-month period since first-quarter 2011's scant 0.1 percent increase.

Also Thursday morning, the Employment and Training Administration reported there were 357,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, up by 16,000 from the previous week's 341,000.

The number of claims basically has ranged between 340,000 and 400,000 since the fall of 2011. It's one in a series of signs that while the economy has been strong enough to be producing jobs at a slow but steady pace, it hasn't been strong enough to bring unemployment down significantly.

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