Economic growth slowed to 1.5 percent in the third quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning.

Annual growth in gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, was down from 3.9 percent the quarter before and below Wall Street estimates.

The weaker-than-expected report is just one of several recent underwhelming pieces of information about the strength of the U.S. economy. Lukewarm output growth is one of the factors that the Federal Reserve will have to weigh in deciding whether the economy is self-sustaining enough to tighten monetary policy this year.

Yet Thursday's report was not as weak as it might appear from the headline.

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