Q3 GDP Rises 3.5%

After declining 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2009, U.S. gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, according to an advance estimate released by the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

A combination of factors contributed to the good news, including higher personal consumption, exports, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and residential fixed investment.

Personal consumption increased 3.4 percent in the third quarter, compared with a decrease of 0.9 percent in the second. Auto sales-boosted by the government’s Cash for Clunkers Program-were a major factor in the third-quarter growth, as was government stimulus spending.

On the inflation front, the price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.6 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 0.5 percent in the second, BEA said. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index increased 0.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 0.8 percent in the second.