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GDP report: Economic growth slightly faster

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the second quarter than previously thought, but the pace of growth is still painfully slow.

The nation's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, was upwardly revised to an annual growth rate of 1.7% in the three months ending in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

While a slight uptick came as good news, the minor revision wasn't a major shocker either. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast the number to stay unchanged at 1.6%.

Less than 2% GDP growth is considered too sluggish to prompt businesses to start hiring again

"A little bit of good news is better than a little bit of bad news, but it's still just little," said Robert Brusca, chief economist, Fact and Opinion Economics.

Thursday's number is the government's third estimate for second-quarter GDP, after it sharply dropped its forecast in August from an initial 2.4% growth rate.

That revision was so dramatic, it shocked Wall Street and soon after, two thirds of economists surveyed by CNNMoney.com increased their forecasts for a double-dip recession.

But while the odds of the nation slipping back into recession are higher, they are still relatively unlikely at about one-in-four, the survey showed. But most economists are still predicting a weak economy going forward.

Overall, GDP continues to be dragged down by a widening trade deficit between the United States and foreign exporters, said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo.

But the report did contain a small sign of hope for the recovery, he said: spending by both consumers and businesses was up significantly from the prior quarter, and investments in new equipment and software alone were up nearly 25%.

"When you look into the details of the report, consumer spending and business investment actually ticked up," Vitner said. "They're not off the charts, but they are posting very solid gains. So in some ways the economy looks a bit firmer."

The Commerce Department calculates GDP as a measure of goods and services produced by labor and property in the United States. The government often revises the number multiple times. To top of page

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