Productivity grew at an annual rate of 5.1 percent, a faster pace than the government previously thought.

The 5.1 percent growth rate marked the strongest pace since the first three months of this year and was a better showing than the 4.5 percent rate analysts were predicting.

The latest reading on productivity -- the amount of output per hour of work -- was even better than the 4 percent growth rate estimated for the third quarter a month ago, and represented a considerable pickup from the 1.7 percent pace registered in the second quarter, the Labor Department reported.

In another report, the Commerce Department said factory orders went up 1.5 percent in October, after falling in both August and September.

Big-ticket manufactured goods, including cars and household appliances, posted a 2.4 percent increase in October and nondurable goods, such as clothes and food, rose 0.6 percent.