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NEW YORK — According to estimates by the United Nations, the global economy expanded by 3.8 percent last year, continuing the strong performance recorded since 2003. Led by China and India, developing countries were prominent among the best performing economies, expanding by 6.5 percent on average in 2006. But can this apparently benign pattern of global growth be sustained, particularly since growth has been accompanied by ever-widening global financial imbalances?

Average annual growth in the least developed countries, many in Africa, reached almost 7 percent last year.

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