(MoneyWatch) The U.S. economy expanded 1.7 percent between April and June, surprising some experts and government forecasters who were expecting weaker growth.
Personal consumption, business spending and the renewed housing market accounted for most of the growth in the quarter, along with a smaller decrease in federal spending, the Commerce Department said Wednesday in releasing its first estimate for the period.
To be sure, the economy is hardly ready for liftoff. The agency revised growth in the first quarter to 1.1 percent, down from an initial estimate of 1.8 percent. But the latest GDP figure topped a consensus estimate of 1 percent growth, and it will help dispel fears that the economy is veering off track after showing stronger job growth in recent months. Economists expect growth to accelerate in the final six months of the year.
The Commerce Department also released revised data showing that growth since the recession was slightly stronger than previously estimated. Growth for 2009 to 2012 was revised up by 0.3 percentage points to 2.4 percent. By contrast, growth over the last three quarters was weaker than originally thought.