27 Feb 2010

US economic growth higher than expected

8:26 pm on 27 February 2010

The United States economy grew faster than expected in the last three months of last year.

Revised official figures show an annual growth rate of 5.9%. The first estimate had been 5.7%.

The BBC reports the figures confirm the economy is emerging rapidly from recession. However, few economists expect the rate to be sustained.

The rise is being attributed to an increase in manufacturing output rather than to stronger consumer spending.

The rate of unemployment, which is close to 10%, is expected to remain high for the rest of the year according to the Federal Reserve.

Business spending on equipment and software rose by 18.2%, while exports of US goods rose by 22.4% - the fastest pace in 13 years.

Growth in consumer spending was revised down from 2% to 1.7% in the quarter.

Separately, sales of previously-owned houses in January fell. The National Association of Realtors said sales fell 7.2% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, much more than forecast and down from 5.44 million in December.