Going up, or crashing down? Shoppers inside an H&M retail store in New York City.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez — Getty Images
By Reuters
December 22, 2016

The U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter, notching its best performance in two years, amid solid consumer spending and a jump in soybean exports.

Gross domestic product increased at a 3.5% annual rate instead of the previously reported 3.2% pace, the Commerce Department said in its third GDP estimate on Thursday.

Growth was the strongest since the third quarter of 2014 and followed the second quarter’s anemic 1.4% pace.

Output was also lifted by upward revisions to business investment in structures and intellectual property products, underscoring the economy’s solid fundamentals, which contributed to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates last week.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected that third-quarter GDP growth would be revised up to a 3.3% rate.

 

When measured from the income side, the economy grew at a 4.8% pace, instead of the previously reported 5.2% clip. That was the fastest pace of increase in gross domestic income since the second quarter of 2014 and followed a 0.7% rate of increase in the second quarter.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased at a 3.0% rate in the third quarter and not the 2.8% pace reported last month. That was still a slowdown from the second quarter’s robust 4.0% pace.

Spending on nonresidential structures, which include oil and gas wells, increased at a 12.0% rate, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2014. Nonresidential outlays were previously reported to have increased at a 10.1% pace.

The export growth estimate was revised a touch lower to a 10.0% rate from the previously reported 10.1% pace. It was the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2013. The spike in exports largely reflected a surge in soybean exports after a poor soy harvest in Argentina and Brazil.

Businesses accumulated inventories at a $7.1 billion rate in the last quarter, rather than the $7.6 billion pace reported last month.

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