More than two-thirds of U.S. state economies strengthened during the last three months of 2011, the widest advance in more than year, illustrating the spread of a recovery fueled by manufacturing and energy production.

The Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States shows energy-rich North Dakota was the top performer in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous three months, followed by West Virginia, Nevada and Oklahoma. The gauge uses data on real estate, taxes, jobs and stock prices to chart the trajectory of 50 state economies. Michigan, Illinois, Idaho, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida rounded out the top 10.

"We haven't felt that rising tide lifting all boats so far, but I think we're on the verge of that," said Robert Dye, chief economist for Comerica Bank, who reported yesterday that Michigan's economy in January reached its strongest level in six years.

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