US economic growth in 2014 fastest in four years

WASHINGTON: The US economy grew at its fastest pace in four years in 2014, outpacing all of the other major developed countries as consumers gained confidence helped by sinking oil prices.

But a slowdown in the fourth quarter bared some of the persistent challenges like the strong dollar to locking the world’s largest economy into higher gear.

While the halving of fuel prices clearly gave American consumers the power to spend more at the end of the year, businesses slowed investment  and the government cut back on spending, especially for defense, dragging down momentum.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that US gross domestic product grew at an annual 2.4 percent pace last year, up from 2.2 percent in 2013, as the United States distanced itself from the sagging economies of Europe and Japan.

The firming recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2009 was marked by improved consumer confidence, the best year of job creation since 1999, and a surge in business profits.