U.S. Q3 GDP Booms on 1st-Read

The U.S. economy reportedly, and unexpectedly, maintained a brisk pace of growth in the third quarter as an increase in inventory investment and a smaller trade deficit offset a hurricane-related slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in construction.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department showed gross domestic product increased at a 3% annual rate in the July-September period after expanding at a 3.1% pace in the second quarter.

The department said while it was impossible to estimate the overall impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on third-quarter GDP, preliminary estimates showed that the back-to-back storms had caused losses of $121.0 billion in privately owned fixed assets and $10.4 billion in government-owned fixed assets.

Those storms struck parts of Texas and Florida in late August and early September. Hurricane Maria, which destroyed infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, had no impact on third-quarter GDP growth as the islands are not included in the United States' national accounts.

Economists had forecast the economy growing at a 2.5% pace in the third quarter. Excluding inventory investment, the economy grew at a 2.3% rate, slowing from the second quarter's 2.9% pace.