WASHINGTON - The economy grew at a rate of 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This was down from the very strong 8.2 percent rate of growth in the third quarter. But that robust pace was considered unsustainable by economists and more moderate growth was expected as the year wound down.

Major contributors to fourth quarter growth included equipment and software as well as residential fixed investment. However, both those areas grew more slowly than they did in the third quarter. But that was partly offset by an upturn in inventory investment.

For the full year, the U.S. economy advanced by 3.1 percent in 2003, the best performance since 2000.

Publication date: 02/02/2004