WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy slowed sharply to an annual growth rate of just 2.2 percent in the summer, the weakest performance in four years, the government said Thursday.
The report provided further evidence that America's boom times are definitely over and sent economists scurrying to lower their economic forecasts for the coming months.
The Commerce Department said the third quarter increase in the gross domestic product -- the economy's total output of goods and services -- was even weaker than previously believed as the trade deficit deteriorated further. A month ago, third quarter GDP was estimated to have risen by 2.4 percent.
The July-September performance marked a dramatic slowdown from a sizzling 5.6 percent GDP growth rate in the April-June quarter and was the poorest showing since a 2 percent increase in the third quarter of 1996.
The sharp falloff in economic growth in the summer and mounting evidence of more recent weakness, including disappointing Christmas sales, have increased worries about whether America's record 10-year economic expansion was in danger of toppling into a recession.
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