By Jeff Cox, CNBC.com Senior Writer
NEW YORK (CNBC) -- If the U.S. economy is to grow in 2012, it may have to do so on the backs of mergers and acquisitions activity, which is expected to be healthy again after a strong 2011.Though much of this year's M&A movement came in the earlier part of the year, the U.S. still registered a healthy $841 billion in deals. That's a 24% gain from 2010 and the highest since pre-financial crisis levels in 2007, according to Dealogic. With valuations low, corporate cash balances high and tax changes likely to spur deal momentum, economists' M&A outlook for the coming year is largely positive.
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