Q3 GDP at 3 Percent Beats Expectations
The U.S. economy unexpectedly maintained a brisk pace of growth in the third quarter as an increase in inventory investment and a smaller trade deficit offset a hurricane-related slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in construction.
Gross domestic product increased at a 3.0 percent annual rate in the July-September period after expanding at a 3.1 percent pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday.
The department said while it was impossible to estimate the overall impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on third-quarter GDP, preliminary estimates showed that the back-to-back storms had caused losses of $121.0 billion in privately owned fixed assets and $10.4 billion in government-owned fixed assets.
Harvey and Irma struck parts of Texas and Florida in late August and early September. Hurricane Maria, which destroyed infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands , had no impact on third-quarter GDP growth as the islands are not included in the United State's national accounts.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy growing at a 2.5 percent pace in the third quarter. Excluding inventory investment, the economy grew at a 2.3 percent rate, slowing from the second quarter's 2.9 percent pace.
With post-hurricane labor market, retail sales and industrial production data already showing an acceleration in underlying economic activity, Friday's report will probably have no impact on monetary policy in the near term.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen cautioned last month that economic growth in the third quarter "will be held down" by the severe disruptions caused by the hurricanes.
The U.S. central bank is expected to increase interest rates for a third time this year in December.
The economic recovery since the 2007-2009 recession is now in its eighth year and showing little signs of fatigue. The economy is being powered by a tightening labor market, which has largely maintained a strong performance that started during former President Barack Obama's first term.
Though U.S. stocks have risen in anticipation of President Donald Trump's tax reform, the administration has yet to enact any significant new economic policies. Trump wants big tax cuts and fewer regulations to boost annual GDP growth to 3 percent.