NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy likely grew at a 2.9 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter of 2016, following the latest data on advance figures on trade and inventory, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDP Now forecast model showed on Thursday.

The latest fourth-quarter gross domestic product estimate was a tad higher than the 2.8 percent growth rate forecast on Jan. 18, the Atlanta Fed said on its website.

The Atlanta Fed's estimate for fourth-quarter growth has bounced in a range of 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent since Oct. 31.

The forecast of the contribution of inventory investment to fourth-quarter growth rose to 0.94 percentage point from 0.74 point, while the forecast of the drag of net exports on GDP increased to 0.64 point from 0.55 point, the Atlanta Fed said.


Earlier Thursday, the Commerce Department said advance goods trade balance showed a $65 billion deficit in December, slightly less than November, while its advance reading on wholesale inventory in December showed a 1 percent increase, matching the rise in November.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)

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