The economy grew slightly faster over the summer as Americans spent a little more freely: The GDP grew at a 2% rate during the third quarter, in line with what economists had forecast. It marks a slight improvement over last quarter, when the GDP grew at a 1.7% rate. Consumers helped boost last quarter's economic growth with 2.6% growth in spending, the biggest quarterly increase since the end of 2006, before the recession hit.
A stock-market rebound made people feel better about spending. Bargains, on everything from cars to home furnishings, also drew them out. But to have any impact on the 9.6% unemployment rate, consumers need to spend even more, and the economy would need to rack up growth of 5% for a full year. (Read more Wall Street stories.)