WASHINGTON — Real gross domestic product, the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the U.S., increased at an annual rate of 2.7% in the third quarter of 2012, according to the preliminary estimate released by the Commerce Department Thursday.

The GDP growth nearly equaled the 2.8% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and represents an upward revision from the 2.0% pace reported in the advance third quarter estimate. GDP increased 1.3% in the second quarter.

Personal consumption expenditures increased 1.4% in the third quarter. Excluding food and energy, PCE increased 1.1%, coming in just shy of the economists' prediction of a 1.3% gain. The rise in real GDP reflected increases of 9.5% in federal government spending and a 14.2% jump in residential fixed investment, the Commerce Department said.

Those gains were partially offset by decreases of 2.2% in nonresidential fixed investment and a 0.4% decline in state and local spending. Imports, which are subtracted from the calculation of GDP, grew 0.1% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.

The preliminary estimate is based on data that is more complete than the advance estimate issued in October, according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. The final estimate, based on even more complete data, will be available Dec. 20.

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