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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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US economy barely grew in Q4, but rebound likely

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The weakest quarter for the U.S. economy in nearly two years may end up being a temporary lull. Economists think growth has begun to pick up on the strength of a sustained housing recovery and a better job market.

The economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent from October from December, a government report Thursday showed. That's only slightly better than the Commerce Department's previous estimate that the economy shrank at a rate of 0.1 percent. And it's down from the 3.1 percent annual growth rate in the July-September quarter.

Economists said the weakness last quarter was caused by steep defense cuts and slower company restocking, which are volatile. Residential construction, consumer spending and business investment â¿¿ core drivers of growth â¿¿ all improved. Steady job growth will likely keep consumers spending, despite higher Social Security taxes that have cut into take-home pay.

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Speedometer top speed often exceeds reality

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ The speedometer on the Toyota Yaris says the tiny car can go 140 miles per hour.

In reality the bulbous subcompact's 106-horsepower engine and automatic transmission can't push it any faster than 109.

So why do the Yaris â¿¿ and most other cars sold in the U.S. â¿¿ have speedometers that show top speeds they can't possibly reach?

The answer has deep roots in an American culture that loves the rush of driving fast. The automakers' marketing departments are happy to give people the illusion that their family car can travel at speeds rivaling a NASCAR racer. And companies often use one speedometer type in various models across the world, saving them money.

But critics say the ever-higher numbers are misleading. Some warn they create a safety concern, daring drivers to push past freeway speed limits that are 65 to 75 mph in most states.

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