WASHINGTON -– U.S. economic growth forged ahead during the third quarter at more than twice the anemic rate of the second quarter, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The Commerce Department said Gross Domestic Product climbed at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the three months from July to September, well ahead of the preceding quarter’s 1.3 percent rate.

The largest contributors to the step-up were an acceleration in consumer spending -- especially for motor vehicles -- and a slowdown in imports, the Commerce Department said.