New York: The US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter, the government said Thursday in a report that revealed weakness in key consumer spending.
The world`s largest economy accelerated from a 2.5 percent pace in the second quarter, surprising analysts who had expected the Commerce Department`s first read on third-quarter gross domestic product would show expansion at a weaker 1.9 percent pace.
It was the strongest pace of growth in a year. But analysts forecast a weaker fourth quarter this year, after a Washington budget battle forced a 16-day government shutdown in October that shaved an estimated USD 24 billion from the economy.
Scott Hoyt of Moody`s Analytics noted that growth in the third quarter came amid widespread expectations that Congress would find a compromise in time to avoid the government shutdown.
The Commerce Department said the July-September pick-up was mainly due to a sharper decline in imports from the second quarter and accelerating rises in private inventory investment and state and local government spending.
Federal government spending, hit by "sequester" budget cuts that began in March, fell 1.7 percent following a fall of 1.6 percent in the second quarter.
Inflation heated up, led by price jumps in energy goods and services, but remained well below the two percent target of the Federal Reserve for price stability.
The price index rose 1.8 percent in the third quarter, following a 0.2 percent rise in the second. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with a 0.8 percent rise in the prior quarter.
Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of US activity, slowed to 1.5 percent from an increase of 1.8 percent in the second quarter
Disposable personal income rose 2.5 percent in the third quarter, down from a 3.5 percent increase in the prior quarter under pressure from rising consumer prices.
"The US economy had somewhat more pep in the previous quarter than expected amid solid gains in construction," Sal Guatieri of BMO Capital Markets said in a research note.
However, he added, weakness in consumer spending and business investment, alongside the large gains in inventories and the government shutdown, "will weigh on growth in the current quarter."
First Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013, 21:17