WASHINGTON — The economy grew at a slower rate in the third quarter than previously estimated, the government reported Wednesday, but signs of slightly stronger consumer spending bolstered hopes for a solid holiday sales season.
The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economy, grew at a revised 2% annual rate in the quarter instead of the 2.2% it reported a month ago.
Though less than half the 4.7% rate of growth in the second quarter, the revised rate showed that the current expansion that began in March 1991 remained intact, analysts said.
While most of the drop in growth came from slower consumer spending, the department said spending rose at a rate of 0.6%, a bit stronger than the 0.4% rate estimated a month ago. Spending had risen at a 3.4% rate in the second quarter.
A University of Michigan survey released Wednesday showed consumer confidence jumped to 99.2 in November from 96.5 in October, financial market sources who subscribe to the report said.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported separately that new applications for jobless pay were steady last week at 342,000, pointing to a largely stable job market.
A separate Commerce Department report pointed to steady if unspectacular growth in manufacturing.
Orders for durable goods edged up 0.1% in October to a seasonally adjusted $174.2 billion after a much stronger 4.6% September increase, the department said.
The increase came wholly from a record 17.3% surge in orders for electrical gear.
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Gross Domestic Product
Percentage change from previous quarter, annual rate '96: 2%
Source: Commerce Department