The Commerce Department's report of 5.7 percent annual growth in the fourth quarter of 2009 was the fastest pace since 2003. Two straight quarters of growth - brought about by companies refilling depleted inventories - followed a record four quarters of decline, and were an indication that the worst recession since the 1930s ended last year.
Also contributing to fourth quarter growth was business spending on equipment and software, which jumped 13.3 percent - much more than forecast. It's the second quarter in a row that business spending has increased, after six quarters of decline.
However, economists expect overall growth to slow this year as companies finish restocking inventories and as government stimulus efforts fade. Many analysts estimate 2.5-3.0 percent GDP growth for the current quarter and about 2.5 percent or below for the year.