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Economic Growth Rate Climbs in Third Quarter

Earlier estimates predicted the gross domestic product (GDP) was growing at an annual rate of 7.2 percent. That number, however, was a full percentage point lower than the figure released Tuesday by the Commerce Department.

The GDP, the broadest gauge of the economy, measures consumption, investment, net exports, government purchases and inventories, The Washington Post reported.

The economy’s surge was attributed to an increase in exports, a decrease in imports, an increase in spending by private companies and an increase in computer equipment and software sales, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“I think there’s a better mix of growth in this report, with capital spending being a major portion of the upward revision,” said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView economics. “The economy is regaining the confidence of businesses and they are stepping up to the plate and spending and investing for the future.”

The 8.2 percent growth rate, the highest percent since the first quarter of 1984, was more than double the 3.3 percent recorded for the second quarter. It is not uncommon, however, for there to be large increases or decreases from quarter to quarter in GDP growth. Analysts believe that the fourth quarter — October to December — rate will drop but still remain at a healthy 4 percent.

The low short-term interest rates and a third round of tax cuts allowed consumers and businesses to increase spending, which translated to strong economic growth in the third quarter, the Associated Press reported.

The surge in the GDP was not the only good economic news. The consumer confidence index climbed in November to its highest level in more than a year, the New York-based Conference Board reported. The rate climbed from 81.7 in October to 91.7 in November.

Heading into the 2004 presidential campaign, analysts have said the health of the economy is critical issue for President Bush, whose administration believes the economy will continue to grow and create more jobs in the coming months.

Democrats blame President Bush for the 2.3 million jobs lost since he took office in January 2001. The unemployment rate only recently improved in October to 6 percent, when jobs were added for the third straight month.

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