economy*The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a year and a half in the fourth quarter of 2011, signaling that a sturdier recovery took hold despite troubles in other parts of the world.

Gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced — grew at an annual rate of 2.8% between October and December, the Commerce Department said Friday. That is up from 1.8% growth in the third quarter and 1.3% in the second quarter.

The 2.8 percent rate in the final three months of last year, the fastest growth in 2011

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