Economic Surge Caps 2009

The U.S. economy grew a better-than-expected 5.7% in the fourth quarter of 2009, marking two straight quarters of GDP growth, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Friday. Much of the growth was tied to inventory replenishment , which made up for tepid consumer spending and business investment.

Historically, two straight quarters of growth has been enough for the National Bureau of Economic Research to declare the end of a cyclical slump -- in this case, the worst recession for the world's largest economy since the Great Depression.