Woman go shopping in Times Square in New York. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY)
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Robust household spending and strong exports kept the U.S. economy on solid ground in the fourth quarter, but stagnant wages could chip away some of the momentum in early 2014 .Earlier in the quarter, many economists were expecting a growth pace below 2 percent given that an inventory surge accounted for much of the increase in the July-September period.Growth over the second half of the year comes in at a 3.7 percent pace, up sharply from 1.8 percent in the first six months of the year. Consumer spending rose at a 3.3 percent rate, the strongest since the fourth quarter of 2010 .Businesses accumulated $127.2 billion worth of inventories, the most since the first quarter of 1998, adding 0.42 percentage point to GDP growth.Excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 2.8 percent rate, up from the third quarter's 2.5 percent rate.The saving rate slowed to 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter from 4.9 percent in the prior period.Business spending on equipment accelerated at a 6.9 percent rate in the fourth quarter after rising at only a 0.2 percent pace in the prior three months.
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