Economy finally back in gear

Government says GDP grew 3.5% in third quarter, ending a year-long string of declines and coming in better than forecasts.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
Last Updated: October 29, 2009: 12:10 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, ending a string of declines over four quarters that resulted in the most severe slide since the Great Depression. But some economists raised doubts about how long such strong growth can last.

The increase in GDP, reported by the government Thursday morning, was slightly better than expectations. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast 3.2% growth in gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity. The economy shrank at a 0.7% rate in the second quarter.

The positive GDP report is one more sign that the economy has likely pulled out of the deep recession that started in December 2007.

The reading by itself doesn’t mark an end to the recession; the economy actually grew in the second quarter of 2008. (The National Bureau of Economic Research, which officially dates the beginning and end of recessions, is not expected to declare that the current recession has ended until sometime in 2010.)

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