The world's largest economy, the US, has emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2009, figures released today show.

US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualised rate (that's how the Americans measure it) of 3.5% in the third quarter of the year.

That is the best growth rate in the US since autumn 2007 and will fuel optimism that global economic prospects are looking brighter for 2010.

Second quarter (GDP) figures from Japan, France and Germany show that these countries have also emerged from recession. The UK remains in decline, shrinking 0.4% in the third quarter of the year.

However, with relatively high unemployment and public debt levels, question marks remain over how quickly, and to what extent, the world's major economies will recover.