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South Korea says economy grew at fastest rate in nearly 3 years

  • 998e12a23dbfb203490f6a7067007c85.jpg

    Visitors look at a sale advertisement in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. South Korea's economy recorded its fastest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track to recovery. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (The Associated Press)

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    Tourists gather in front of the foreign currency exchange booth in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. South Korea's economy recorded its fastest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track to recovery. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (The Associated Press)

  • 41dd0bd93dc3b203490f6a7067005969.jpg

    A cleaner walks by an advertisement of a bank card in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. South Korea's economy recorded its fastest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track to recovery. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (The Associated Press)

  • b8ba27ad3dc3b203490f6a7067009303.jpg

    A man sweeps with a broom in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. South Korea's economy recorded its fastest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track to recovery. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (The Associated Press)

  • b8a607293dc4b303490f6a70670055d5.jpg

    Visitors walk by a cosmetic advertisement in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. South Korea's economy recorded its fastest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track to recovery. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (The Associated Press)

South Korea recorded its fastest growth since the first quarter of 2011, its central bank said Thursday, showing a recovery in Asia's fourth-largest economy is on track.

The Bank of Korea said preliminary data showed that the economy expanded by 3.9 percent in the final quarter of 2013 over a year earlier, accelerating from the third quarter's 3.3 percent. The growth was thanks to an increase in capital expenditure and exports.

From the previous quarter, the country's gross domestic product increased 0.9 percent, slowing from the previous two quarters when it expanded 1.1 percent.

For all of 2013, the economy expanded 2.8 percent, matching the bank's forecast. Capital expenditure declined for a second straight year but investment in the construction industry turned sharply higher and private consumption showed a steady gain. Export growth slightly accelerated from the previous year.

South Korea is on track to recover from 2012 when economic growth slowed to a three-year low. In 2013, the government introduced stimulus measures to boost the real estate market and an overall economic recovery.

The Bank of Korea said last week that the recovery will continue to pick up this year, predicting 3.7 percent expansion for the year.

There are still concerns that growth in South Korea is too reliant on big companies and is largely driven by the government spending rather than private industry.

Weak domestic demand and capital spending from companies are among the challenges. South Korea's government has made boosting private businesses and domestic consumption as its priority for this year.