US economic growth nudged up in the third quarter, new government figures confirmed today.

There are also emerging signs the US economy more or less maintained the moderate pace of expansion as the year ended, supported by a strong labour market.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.1% annualised rate, the Commerce Department said in its third estimate of third-quarter GDP. That was unrevised from last month's estimate. 

The US economy grew at a 2.0% pace in the three months from April to June. 

Despite the unrevised reading, which was in line with economists' expectations, consumer spending was stronger than previously reported. 

There were also upgrades to business spending on non-residential structures such as power infrastructure, which limited the drop in overall business investment.

That offset downward revisions to investment in home building and inventory accumulation. Imports, which are a drag to GDP growth, were also higher than previously estimated. 

When measured from the income side, the economy grew at a 2.1% rate in the last quarter, rather than the 2.4% pace estimated in November. 

Gross domestic income (GDI) increased at a rate of 0.9% in the second quarter. 

The revision to the income side of the growth ledger reflected a downgrade to corporate profits. 

After-tax profits without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustment, which corresponds to S&P 500 profits, were revised down to show them declining $23.1 billion, or at a rate of 1.2%. 

Profits were previously reported to have decreased $11.3 billion, or at a rate of 0.6% in the third quarter.

They were in part held down by legal settlements with Facebook and Google. Profits increased at a 3.3% rate in the second quarter. 

The average of GDP and GDI, also referred to as gross domestic output and considered a better measure of economic activity, increased at a 2.1% rate in the three months from July to September. 

That was down from the previously reported 2.3% pace and an acceleration from a 1.4% growth rate in the second quarter. 

The US economy appears to have maintained its moderate growth speed in the fourth quarter, with the lowest unemployment rate in nearly half a century supporting consumer spending. 

Recession fears, which gripped financial markets in the summer, have faded. 

US Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve's three interest rate cuts this year are lifting the housing market. The Fed last week kept rates steady and signaled borrowing costs could remain unchanged at least during 2020. 

US manufacturing looks to be stabilising as tensions in the 17-month trade war between the US and China ease. 

A turnaround in manufacturing could, however, be delayed after Boeing announced this week it would suspend production of its best-selling 737 MAX jetliner in January as fallout from two fatal crashes of the now-grounded aircraft drags into 2020. 

Growth estimates for the fourth quarter range from as low as a 1.3% rate to as high as a 2.3% pace. 

Though growth has been relatively strong, economists did not expect the economy to achieve the Trump administration's 3% target this year. 

The economy grew 2.6% in the first half. 

Growth has slowed from the 3.1% rate notched in the first three months of the year, partly because of the US-China trade war and as the stimulus from last year's $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades. 

Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, was raised to a 3.2% rate in the third quarter from the previously reported 2.9% pace.