U.S. Economy Grows 3.7% In Q3

By Agence France-Presse The U.S. economy grew at a slower-than-expected 3.7% annual pace in the third quarter, the government said Oct. 29, unleashing a last-gasp scrap in the lock-tight race to the White House. Economic growth sped up from a second-quarter pace of 3.3%, but fell below Wall Street analysts' general forecasts for an expansion of about 4.3%. So the news gave roughly equal dollops of comfort to President George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger John Kerry, each trying to elbow the other before the Nov. 2 vote. Bush's side boasted of solid activity, with consumer spending up 4.6% and business investment up 11.7% despite sizzling crude oil and gasoline prices. "We are encouraged by the ongoing strong performance of the American economy, with a non-inflationary growth rate that is above the average for the past 10 years," Treasury Secretary John Snow said in a statement. Kerry's campaign decried a weaker-than-expected economy. "In the last three months, the economic performance was disappointing for middle-class families and below expectations, the results that have become the norm for the economy under President Bush," said Kerry's economic advisor, Gene Sperling. The argument could be crucial, with polls consistently showing jobs and the economy among the biggest factors for voters. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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