U.S. Economy Grew at 3.5% Rate in 3rd Quarter

The economy expanded at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s slower than the second quarter’s blockbuster 4.2 percent, but it puts the economy on pace for the fastest annual growth in 13 years.

Consumer spending jumped at a 4 percent rate in the July-September quarter — the fastest in about four years and topping the 3.8 percent in the prior three months.

Overall growth may have been affected, in part, by Hurricane Florence, which flooded the Southeast U.S. in September. The Commerce Department said Florence resulted in losses of $37 billion in property and equipment.

Exports decreased at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter after jumping 9.3 percent in the second quarter. Analysts had cautioned that the previous increase in exports was sparked by looming tariffs by China in its ongoing trade war with the United States.