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US says output last year was the worst in 36 years

The nation's gross national product fell 1.8 percent last year, the worst performance for the economy in 36 years, the government said Wednesday. The October-December drop was at an annual rate of 2.5 percent, the Commerce Department reported, which contributed to the poor overall showing for the year. In 1981 GNP, the broad measure of goods and services provided throughout the economy, grew 1.9 percent. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said that despite the fourth-quarter decline, a rebound in housing and auto sales is already sparking an economic recovery.

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