Economy grew at a faster pace at end of 2011

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WASHINGTON (AP) ? The economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the final three months of last year, and Americans earned more income than previously reported. That could set the stage for stronger growth this year.

The Commerce Department says the economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter ? the fastest pace since the spring of 2010. It exceeded the previous estimate of 2.8 percent. And it was better than the third quarter’s 1.8 percent growth rate.

The growth estimate was revised up because consumers spent more than first thought, and businesses cut spending by much less. Imports rose by a smaller amount.

The report also showed that incomes rose in the second half of last year by more than previously estimated. Americans saved more, too.