c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Government statisticians gave the U.S. economy a lift Thursday when they sharply revised their calculation of the nationís second-quarter growth to an annual rate of 2.5 percent, up from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent.

The new figure from the Commerce Department ó more than double the 1.1 percent growth rate of the first quarter ó is based on more complete data than was available last month. Analysts had been expecting a revision to 2.2 percent.

An increase in exports of goods and services was larger than first measured, the department said, and the increase in imports was smaller. The new rate also reflected a smaller decrease in federal government spending.

While a stronger economic recovery would be welcomed in many quarters, stock investors kept the market only modestly higher early Thursday after the figures were announced. A healthier economy could lead the Federal Reserve to maintain plans to pull back on its monetary stimulus program later this year, and even as early as the Fedís September meeting.

Such large revisions in gross domestic product are not rare. The growth rate that the government announces about a month after the end of each quarter is based on incomplete figures and is followed by a second and third estimate at subsequent one-month intervals.

The first estimate has been off the mark by an average of 1.3 percentage points, compared with more fully analyzed figures released years later, over the period from 1983 to 2009, according to federal data.