The United States says its economy grew by 2 percent in the July-to-September period, a slightly faster pace than economists had projected.
The government said Friday that increased consumer spending, accounting for 70 percent of the world's largest economy, led the advance. American economists had projected growth of 1.8 percent in the third quarter, up from the 1.3 percent figure recorded in April, May and June.
In addition, the U.S. said increased spending on defense projects and renewed residential construction pushed the economy ahead. That helped offset flat spending by businesses for new equipment and software, the weakest reading in that category in three years, and the economic effects of last summer's severe drought in the country's vast farmlands.
The U.S. has struggled to recover from the depths of the recession in 2008 and 2009, the country's worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. More than 12 million workers remain unemployed, and the modest growth has not been robust enough to significantly cut the high jobless rate.
The state of the U.S. economy, and voters' perception of it, is a central issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, leading to the November 6 election.
U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, says the economy is on a path to recovery. But his Republican challenger, wealthy businessman Mitt Romney, says his policies would boost job growth and lead to a faster advance.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.