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Updated from 8:37 a.m. EST

Economic growth in the third quarter was stronger than initially estimated by the government.

The Commerce Department today said its preliminary report, or second reading, on gross domestic product showed the economy expanded at a revised annualized rate of 3.9% vs. the initial, or advance, estimate of 3.7%. The consensus estimate of economists was for a rate of 3.7%. Consumer spending, exports and business investment were all revised up.

A key inflation gauge -- the price deflator -- came in at 1.3%, unchanged from its initial reading. The index rose 3.2% in the second quarter.

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Despite the healthy showing, economic growth has slowed markedly since the end of last year. The economy grew at a rate of 3.3% in the second quarter, having suffered something of a late spring slowdown.

The latest GDP report included the first data on corporate profits for the quarter. Overall, profits fell $27.6 billion, as the series of hurricanes in the Southeast hurt production. Profits increased $8.3 billion in the second quarter.