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The latest round of economic numbers shows 2011 ending with improving health, as jobless claims for the week went down 4,000 to 364,000 and the gross domestic product expanded by 1.8 percent, an increase over the second quarter's 1.3 percent gain. It's the lowest weekly number of people filing for unemployment benefits since April 2008, Bloomberg reports, and the economists that the news agency routinely polls hadn't predicted a drop that steep. So that's good. As for the GDP, it was revised down from an estimated 2 percent growth for the quarter last month, the Commerce Department reported. But it's still an improvement over the second quarter. The Commerce release explains: "The acceleration in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected accelerations in PCE, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in exports, and a smaller decrease in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a larger decrease in private inventory investment."




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