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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 20:24 GMT
Fast US growth outstrips estimate
US flags fluttering in the breeze
The housing sector has helped push US growth
US economic growth accelerated to an annual rate of 4.3% in the three months from July to September, according to revised Commerce Department figures.

In its first estimate, the department had said quarterly growth was 3.8%.

There had been fears that the cost of rebuilding after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, coupled with record oil prices, would slam the brakes on growth.

Separate figures from the US Federal Reserve showed that US economic activity increased during November.

"Consumer prices remained stable or experienced generally modest increases," the Fed said in its latest 'beige book' report on US economic conditions.

"Most districts reported increasing input prices, particularly of energy-related products, construction and raw materials, and transportation."

'Housing investment'

The upward revision of gross domestic product (GDP) was aided by higher spending on non-durable goods, in homes, on business equipment and on software, the Commerce Department said.

"This is a pretty good growth rate," said Patrick Fearon, senior economist at AG Edwards.

"It looks as if investment spending in the third quarter was a lot stronger than previously thought, both in terms of corporate investment and housing investment."

He said he thought that growth would slow in the fourth quarter as the housing sector softened - leading, in turn, to reduced consumer spending.

The Federal Reserve said a number of districts had reported a "slowing or cooling" in real estate markets during November.

Profits hit

The core price index, which excludes food and energy costs, was up just 1.2%, its lowest in two years, the Commerce Department said.

This was revised down from the original 1.3%, and will ease inflation worries at the Federal Reserve.

The Fed has raised short-term interest rates a dozen times since mid-2004 to keep inflation under control, and its rate-increasing campaign may be near its end.

Consumer spending advanced at a 4.2% rate, above the 3.9% rate first reported.

However, core corporate profits after tax during the period fell 3.7%, the largest decline in four years, after a 5.3% rise in the previous quarter.

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