U.S. economy grows at a 2.2 percent pace in final quarter of 2006

The U.S. economy grew at a sluggish 2.2 percent pace in the final quarter of last year, much slower than initially thought as businesses tightened their belts amid fallout from the troubled housing and automotive industries.

The fresh reading on gross domestic product, released Wednesday by the Commerce Department, showed the economy in a considerably weaker state than the government first estimated, when it said the expansion in the last three months of 2006 was at a 3.5 percent pace, reports AP.

The new GDP figure for the October-to-December quarter was a tad slower than the 2.3 percent growth rate economists were forecasting and clearly less sunny than that original estimate. The GDP, which measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States, is the best overall barometer of economic health.

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