According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the economy exited recession in the third quarter, posting the strongest growth in two years.
After four quarters of contraction, the economy grew at an annualized 3.5% in the July-September period from the prior quarter. It was strongest expansion since the 2007 third quarter.
The department's first estimate of third-quarter GDP was much better than the 3.2% rate expected by most analysts.
The department said the economy shrank an unrevised 0.7% in the second quarter.
The third-quarter increase was led by a rise in consumer spending, up 3.4%, adding 2.36 percentage points to GDP growth.
While a recession is largely regarded as over after one quarter of economic growth, in the U.S. the economy will not be officially out of recession until it has been declared by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of business cycles.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009