U.S. real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.7% in the third quarter of 2012, according to estimates released today (link opens in PDF) by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3%.

The department attributed the growth to improvements in personal consumption expenditures, investments in inventories, spending by the federal government, residential fixed investment, and exports. These offset declines in local government spending and nonresidential fixed investment.

The 2.7% figure represents an improvement over the Department of Commerce's initial estimate of 2% issued last month. The figure has been revised higher to reflect revisions to private inventory investment, certain categories of exports, and nonresidential fixed investment. A third and final third-quarter GDP estimate is scheduled to be released Dec. 20.