GDP increase: Up 3.5 percent in third quarter, the first rise in a year

It's good news that investors have been waiting awhile for: The U.S. economy grew for the first time in a year, rising 3.5 percent in the third quarter, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday. It was the strongest growth rate in two years and was led by consumer spending, a slower reduction in inventories, a stabilizing housing market, and large increases in government spending connected to the federal stimulus package.

A Bloomberg survey had predicted a Q3 GDP increase of 3.0 percent. Prior to Q3, the economy had contracted for four consecutive quarters, including a 0.7 percent decline in Q2 and a 6.4 percent decline in Q1. The U.S government revises its GDP estimates for previous quarters as it receives more information.