WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the October-December quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.
The fourth-quarter increase followed a 4.1% growth rate in the July-September quarter, when the economy benefited from a buildup in business stockpiles.
For 2013 as a whole, the economy grew a tepid 1.9%, weaker than the 2.8% increase in 2012, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Growth was held back last year by higher taxes and federal spending cuts.
WASHINGTON — Ben Bernanke’s sway over financial markets has been on full display in recent weeks. When the Federal Reserve chairman speaks Wednesday to Congress, investors will once again parse each word for any subtle shift in the Fed’s stance on interest rates.