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Consumers seem to have held back on spending in the third quarter from second-quarter levels, but they could snap back in the fourth quarter, based on high confidence levels and falling gasoline prices.
Third-quarter GDP is released at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, and the first reading is expected to show growth of 3.2 percent, according to the CNBC/Moody's Analytics rapid update of economists' estimates.
"This is likely to have slower consumer spending in it. Generally, you want to have GDP with business investment and spending and I think investment is alright, at least investment in equipment. I think the consumer is a little softer, at about 2 percent, " said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. In the second quarter, consumer expenditures were at 2.5 percent, while GDP grew at an annualized rate of 4.6 percent.
Barclays chief U.S. economist Dean Maki said he expects GDP growth of 3 percent for the third quarter and a weaker contribution from consumer expenditures with a 1.5 percent gain.