WASHINGTON – Final real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the U.S. -- increased at an annual rate of 3.0% in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday.

The final estimate of fourth quarter real GDP was the same as the preliminary estimate released last month, and was in line with the 3.0% median increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. That represents the largest quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2007, when GDP also rose 3.0%.

The increase reflected gains of 2.1% in personal consumption expenditures, 11.6% in real residential fixed investment, and 2.7% in real exports. Those gains were partially offset by decreases of 6.9% in federal government spending and 2.2% in state and local government spending. Imports, which are subtracted from the calculation of GDP, increased 3.7% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said.

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