The government agency that tracks the U.S. economy revised its figures for the end of 2012 on Thursday, updating previous figures that showed a slight contraction with new data showing GDP expanded by 0.1 per cent.

The original estimate published earlier this year suggested the American economy actually shrank by 0.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2012, a troubling indicator for the world's largest economy.

But Thursday's update showed GDP eked out a modest 0.1 per cent gain between October and December — still well below the 3.1 per cent pace of expansion seen in the previous period, but at least in positive territory.

The revision was due to higher exports and more business investment that previously thought, the Commerce Department said in a release. The agency reports three versions of the GDP report, with the number changing somewhat as more data trickles in.

Economists are already suggesting the weak showing was a blip, and the factors that were holding the economy back at the end of the year have now disappeared.

Data released just yesterday showed that contracts to buy homes, and orders from businesses from large factory items hit multi-year highs.

"We still believe that the fourth-quarter GDP figures were a lot better than the headline stagnation suggests," Capital Economics chief economist Paul Ashworth said, adding he thinks growth in the current quarter could be as high as two per cent.

Another data point released Thursday showed the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 344,000.