By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer
The economy skidded to a near halt in the final quarter of last year, clobbered by dual slumps in housing and credit that caused people and businesses to spend and invest more sparingly. Commerce Department reported Thursday that the gross domestic product increased at a scant 0.6 percent pace in the October-to-December quarter. The reading — unchanged from an initial estimate a month ago — underscored just how much momentum the economy has lost. In the prior quarter, the economy clocked in at a brisk 4.9 percent pace. Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced in the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health. "The economy just kept its head above water," said Nigel Gault, economist at Global Insight.