The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the gross domestic product, the nation's total output of goods and services, rose at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the July-September quarter. It was the fastest pace of growth in 1 1/2 years. The new figure demonstrated that the economy kept expanding at a strong pace during the summer, led by solid increases in consumer demand, especially for autos, and business investment.
The third quarter performance was up substantially from a 3.3 percent GDP growth rate in the April-June quarter and was the best showing since the economy expanded at a 4.3 percent rate in the first three months of 2004. The economy had originally been estimated to have grown at a 3.8 percent rate in the third quarter, a figure that was revised up to 4.3 percent last month and now revised slightly lower to 4.1 percent.