Stepped-up consumer spending and investment lifted growth in Germany, the biggest EU economy, in the third quarter to 0.5 percent, according to official data Thursday confirming earlier estimates. Gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent in the third quarter, following a 0.3-percent expansion in the second quarter, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement. \"There was more consumption but also more investment than in the previous quarter,\" it said. The data confirmed that Germany outperformed its neighbours during the three months ending September 30. However economists see signs of a looming slowdown in the fourth quarter as the eurozone debt crisis takes a toll. In the retail sector, traditionally a weak link in Germany\'s economy, household spending grew 0.8 percent while public sector spending rose 0.6 percent. Investment in equipment -- mainly machines and vehicles -- surged 2.9 percent but fell 0.7 percent in the building sector, Destatis. said. Meanwhile exports, normally the backbone of the European powerhouse, did little to boost growth as they increased 2.5 percent, at a slightly lower clip than imports at 2.6 percent. In a year-on-year comparison using seasonally adjusted data, German growth hit a robust 2.6 percent in the third quarter, Destatis said.