The U.S. economy expanded at a 3.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter as Americans??? spending rose the most in three years, signaling clear improvement heading into 2014. The annualized gain in gross domestic product (GDP) matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey and followed a 4.1 percent advance during the prior three months, Commerce Department figures showed. Growth in the second half of 2013 was the strongest since the six months ended in March 2012. However, consumer spending rose 3.3 percent, less than estimated. Rise in demand allowed the economy to overcome cuts in government outlays caused by the partial federal shutdown in October. The improved consumer spending may further embolden Federal Reserve policymakers to continue paring its monetary stimulus in the months ahead, after announcing a $10-billion cut to $65 billion a month yesterday.