Business Notes:THE ECONOMY: Steady as She Goes

Steady as She Goes

On the surface, the news from the Commerce Department looked bad. Showing the effects of a still high trade deficit and this summer's drought, the U.S. gross national product expanded at an annual rate of only 2.2% in the third quarter, down from 3.0% in the previous three months and the weakest performance in nearly two years.

But economists were more pleased than alarmed by the figures. Many had been afraid that the economy was overheating and that mounting inflation and higher interest rates were on the way. Now analysts are more confident that the economy stands a chance of avoiding...

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