The prospects for the U.S. economy have brightened thanks to improvements in the labor and housing markets and policy actions in Europe that appear to have reduced the threat of a near-term financial crisis. That’s the gist of an upbeat economic forecast released Monday by TD Economics, an affiliate of TD Bank. 

The group forecasts economic growth to average 2.2% in 2012 and 2.4% in 2013. Rising gas prices and a slowing global economy are expected to restrain growth in the first half of this year. However, in the second half of the year, economic growth is expected to pick up to above 2.5%, according to the quarterly forecast. 

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