US Q2 economic growth gains pace
WASHINGTON: The US economy grew a bit faster than previously estimated in the second quarter, recording its quickest pace in more than two years, but the momentum probably slowed in the third quarter as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma temporarily curbed activity.
Gross domestic product increased at a 3.1 per cent annual rate in the April-june period, the Commerce Department said in its third estimate on Thursday. The upward revision from the 3.0 per cent rate of growth reported last month reflected a slightly faster pace of inventory investment.
Growth last quarter was the quickest since the first quarter of 2015 and followed a 1.2 per cent pace in the January-march period. Economists had expected that the second-quarter GDP growth rate would be unrevised at 3.0 per cent.
Harvey, which struck Texas, has been blamed for much of the decline in retail sales, industrial production, homebuilding and home sales in August. Further weakness is anticipated in September after Irma slammed into Florida early this month.
Rebuilding is, however, expected to boost GDP growth in the fourth quarter and in early 2018. Estimates for the growth rate in the July-september period are just above 2.2 per cent.
However, they could be raised after another report from the Commerce Department on Thursday showed a decline in the goods trade deficit in August as well as large increases in both retail and wholesale inventories. Harvey and Irma continue to impact the labour market and are expected to cut into job growth this month. In a third report, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 272,000 for the week ended Sept. 23.