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REPORT CONFIRMS US ECONOMIC GROWTH HAS SLOWED TO 5-YEAR LOW

The U.S. economy, hammered by declining exports and spending on durable goods, grew at an annual rate of only 1.1 percent in the final three months of 2000, the weakest performance in more than five years.

The anemic performance of the gross domestic product -- the total output of goods and services produced within the United States -- was only slightly above the expectations of many private economists. They were predicting a growth rate of 1.0 percent.

The weak showing in the fourth quarter, reported today by the Commerce Department, demonstrated how dramatically the economy had slowed since the second quarter of last year, when it grew at a hectic pace of 5.6 percent.

The fourth-quarter annual growth rate of 1.1 percent was the smallest since 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 1995. It was revised downward from an already-weak 1.4 percent estimated a month ago.

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