Mortgage rates moved slightly higher Thursday following this morning’s release of preliminary third quarter GDP figures. According to the data, the economy contracted 0.3% in the three months ending September 30. Although this was the first negative reading since 2002, traders had anticipated an even larger contraction. Stocks initially moved higher on the announcement. Later, gains were pared as analysts focused on a troubling component of the report, a 3.1% annual drop in consumer spending, the first decline since 1991. A significant reduction in spending could result in a far deeper and more sustained economic downturn. On a more positive note, the recent freeze in credit markets showed signs of easing, as the market for commercial paper expanded for the first time in seven weeks.