Gross domestic product report released Friday morning

U.S. economy expanded slightly faster than 2%

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy expanded at a slightly faster 2 percent annual rate from July through September, buoyed by an uptick in consumer spending and a burst of government spending.

   The Commerce Department says growth improved from the 1.3 percent rate in the April-June quarter.

   The pickup in growth may help President Barack Obama's message that the economy is improving. Still, growth remains too weak to rapidly boost hiring. And the 1.74 percent rate for 2012 trails last year's 1.8 percent growth, a point GOP nominee Mitt Romney will emphasize.

   The report is the last snapshot of economic growth before Americans choose a president in 11 days.

   Growth was held back by the first drop in exports in more than three years and flat business investment in equipment and software.
 

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