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The U.S. economy slowed to just 1.5 percent growth in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists had predicted 1.6 percent increase in gross domestic product. While growth has sputtered since the end of the 2009 recession, consumers are propelling the economy with a 3.2 percent increase in spending. Shoppers are encouraged to spend by consistently cheap gasoline and improving housing and labor markets.