GDP grows 2% and consumer confidence improves

The U.S. economy sped up in the third quarter, as the gross domestic product grew at a 2 percent clip from July through September, up from 1.3 percent in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department.

The rate of growth also matched the economy’s performance in the first three months of the year.

Growth accelerated over the summer after dipping in the spring mainly because of consumers, whose spending accounts for up to 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in five years in October as Americans were more upbeat about prospects for the economy and their own finances, a survey released on Friday showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment rose to 82.6 from 78.3 in September. It was at its highest level since September 2007 on a final reading basis.

Another bright sign about the U.S. economy came today with the news that Chrysler Group LLC will add 1,100 new employees who will begin working next week on third shift at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.

The additional employees are needed to meet continuing strong demand for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Through September, U.S. sales of the Grand Cherokee are up 30.1 percent from a year earlier to 112,075.

The automaker has added about 7,000 workers at plants in the United States and Canada since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2009. It is planning to add a third crew of workers at its Warren, Mich., truck plant by March.

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