NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is on track to grow at a 3.1 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter due to expected stronger consumer spending and equipment investments as well as a smaller trade gap, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDP Now forecast model showed on Friday.

The latest estimate on gross domestic product for the fourth quarter was higher than the 2.3 percent increase calculated on Tuesday, the Atlanta Fed said on its website.

The forecasts for fourth-quarter consumer spending growth and equipment investment growth increased from 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent and 2.7 percent to 5.9 percent, respectively, after vehicle sales data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Wednesday.

Total vehicles were sold at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 18.3 million units in October, compared with an 18.0 million annualized rate in September, according to the agency.


The forecast of the contribution of net exports to fourth-quarter GDP inched up from -0.01 percentage point to 0.05 percentage point after the government's report on international trade, the Atlanta Fed said.

The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade deficit narrowed 9.9 percent to $36.4 billion in September, the smallest since February 2015. August's trade gap was revised slightly less to $40.5 billion.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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