GDP estimate firms at 3 percent

March 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM

WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday growth in the gross domestic product held firm at 3 percent in the fourth quarter.

The department releases three estimates of the quarterly GDP with numbers firming up as more data become available. The first estimate of the fourth quarter, issued two months prior, set the GDP at 2.8 percent. It was moved up to 3 percent a month ago. With new data available, economists expected the GDP to grow to 3.2 percent in Thursday's report. Instead, it didn't move.

The department said consumer spending rose 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter after rising 1.7 percent in the previous quarter. Durable goods rose 16.1 percent after an increase of 5.7 percent in the third quarter.

The numbers reflect a stronger manufacturing sector, which has shown up in the unemployment rate, which has dropped to 8.3 percent. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent.

Commerce also said corporate profits in the fourth quarter increased by $16.8 billion after rising by $32.5 billion in the third quarter.

Financial firm profits jumped by $29.9 billion in the fourth quarter after rising $9.2 billion in the third.

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