Econ­omy

The Washington Post Sunday - - TAKING STOCK -

U.S. econ­omy grew at 3.2 per­cent in the fourth quar­ter, which was be­low an­a­lyst ex­pec­ta­tions but re­flected growth in con­sumer spend­ing. World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land, fea­tured dis­cus­sions on a global trade pact to spur growth for coun­tries and bol­ster the world’s poor. Also, Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Ti­mothy F. Gei­th­ner said he’s con­fi­dent about U.S. eco­nomic ex­pan­sion.

Fed­eral Re­serve unan­i­mously agrees to go ahead with a plan to buy as much as $600 bil­lion in long-term Trea­sury bonds as the re­cov­ery is slow and job­less­ness re­mains high. Hous­ing prices, al­ready down, fell to new lows in cities across the nation in Novem­ber. New home sales hit a 47-year low in 2010. TheWash­ing­ton area mar­ket bucked the trend. Ja­pan’s credit rat­ing on its long-term sov­er­eign debt was down­graded by Stan­dard & Poor’s, which said the govern­ment’s high debt bur­den was likely to con­tinue. U.S. wheat ex­ports are ris­ing sharply as global buy­ers try to lock down sup­plies. Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank warned that it could raise in­ter­est rates in re­sponse to in­fla­tion fears sparked by in­creases in food, oil and raw­ma­te­rial prices. Bri­tish econ­omy shrunk 0.5 per­cent in the fourth quar­ter, per­form­ing worse than econ­o­mist ex­pec­ta­tions of a 0.5 per­cent gain.

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