The third-quarter gross domestic product revision was a nonevent as components were altered slightly, with the same result that real growth dipped 0.5% overall. The only question this raised for the fourth quarter is how fast activity is dropping — and the answer lies in holiday sales, which so far remain slow amid massive discounting.

October-November data shows a declining pace of activity and analysts expect about a 6% drop in growth in the fourth quarter. The history books show the last time there was such poor results was the first quarter of 1982, which fell 6.4%. The Commerce Department provided no official word on how the fourth quarter is progressing.

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