The American economy ended a year of mostly disappointments with modestly stronger growth, but still less than what was hoped for by many analysts.
The nation’s gross domestic product -- the total value of goods and services produced in the U.S. -- rose 2.8% in the fourth quarter from the prior quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
While that was an acceleration from the feeble growth rate of 1.8% in the summer, the latest GDP figure was below the 3% that most analysts were projecting. The final quarter of 2011 got a big lift from businesses increasing their stockpile of goods, but a buildup of inventory at year's end is likely to hold down growth this quarter.
The fourth quarter also saw a pickup in consumer spending as people bought more cars and household furnishings. But spending on services was weak. Cutbacks by government, especially at state and local levels, slower business investments and a bigger trade deficit dragged down the economy at year's end.