The economy grew at a 1.4 percent rate in the final quarter of last year -- twice as fast as the government first estimated. The revised reading on gross domestic product, reported by the Commerce Departmeny, marked a stronger showing than the 0.7 percent growth rate that was reported for the fourth quarter of 2002 a month ago.

The major factors in the upward revision to fourth quarter GDP were stronger investment by businesses in building up stockpiles of unsold goods and a slight boost to consumer spending.

In the fourth quarter, stronger inventory building by businesses resulted in a 0.24 percentage point boost to GDP, a turnaround from the 0.56 percentage point reduction to GDP estimated a month ago.

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States, increased at a rate of 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

That marked a slight improvement over the 1 percent pace previously reported, but still was a pullback from the 4.2 percent rate in the third quarter.