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The U.S. economy grew at a 3.7 percent annual rate in the third quarter -- a pace that was slightly better than in the spring but not as strong as many analysts expected. Today's government report was the last such broad snapshot of economic activity before Election Day.

The reading on gross domestic product (GDP) for the July-to-September quarter -- the last broad snapshot of economic activity before Election Day -- followed a 3.3 percent growth rate in the prior quarter, the Commerce Department reported today.

Analysts were predicting that the economy, which Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had said hit a "soft patch" in the late spring, would gain traction and expand at a more brisk 4.3 percent rate in the third quarter.

GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the broadest barometer of the economy's health.

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