The U.S. economy contracted at a slower-than-expected 0.3% in the third-quarter, according to a first reading of gross domestic product provided Thursday by the Commerce Department.

Real GDP, the output of goods and services produced by workers and property in the U.S., fell less than the 0.5% consensus estimate by economists. The first, or advance, reading of GDP is based on incomplete data and is subject to two more revisions by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The second, or "preliminary," reading is due out Nov. 25.

GDP rose 2.8% in the second quarter, according to the final results last quarter.

Downturns in personal consumption expenditures -- particularly of durable goods -- and residential gross private domestic investment could not be offset by an increase in exports and government expenditures.

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