US economy expanded at brisk pace of 3.3% in third quarter
WASHINGTON — Led by a rise in business investment, the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 3.3 percent from July through September, its fastest rate in three years.
The Commerce Department estimated Wednesday that third-quarter growth exceeded the 3 percent annual expansion for the period that it had initially reported last month.
The performance, achieved despite damage from two devastating hurricanes, marked the fastest expansion in gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — since a 5.2 percent annual spurt in the third quarter of 2014.
The estimated growth for the July-September quarter marked an improvement on 3.1 percent annual growth in the second quarter and a 1.2 percent annual pace in the January-March quarter.
“The news on the economy had previously been good, but it just got a little better,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
Baird noted that the holiday shopping season appears to be off to a strong start, “which bodes well for consumer spending to propel the economy to a strong finish to the year.”
Before the revised thirdquarter numbers came out, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta was forecasting that growth would rise to a 3.4 percent annual pace in the final three months of 2017, which could bring growth for the full year close to 2.8 percent. In 2016, the economy grew just 1.5 percent.
The economy showed resilience last quarter in the face of two hurricanes: Harvey, which hit Texas in late August, and Irma, which battered Florida in September.