Strong consumer buying is credited for an upward revision in U.S. fourth-quarter GDP growth, now pegged at an annualized 2.6%, up from the previously reported 2.4%. In another positive sign, fewer than expected Americans applied for jobless benefits last week because of a slower pace of firings as employers anticipate improved business. "Activity in the second quarter is going to represent something of a rebound from the first quarter," said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies in New York.

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