Slows Slightly During Third Quarter

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But Friday's third quarter GDP report may be the best hard evidence yet that the tariffs are causing major disruptions in the economy.

This year's third-quarter figure was fueled by strong consumer spending, but newly enacted trade tariffs between the USA and China acted as a drag on the figures.

If trade matched its average contribution since 2015, a 0.33 point drag, GDP would have come in at 5%.

The Congressional Budget Office points to several reasons for that: the expiration of personal income tax cuts, slower growth in federal spending, and higher interest rates and prices.

There's mounting anecdotal evidence that President Donald Trump's trade war is causing trouble for the USA economy and businesses.

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Strong consumer and government spending powered economic growth in the third quarter, although a warning sign about the outlook emerged in the form of weak business investment.

Yet the government is also locked in a bitter trade war with China as well as trade disputes with other trade partners and the last quarter's slowdown mostly reflects the impact of Beijing's retaliatory tariffs on US exports, including soybeans. "This is what happens when we pass policies to help American consumers, workers, and businesses generate economic growth and opportunity". "This report shows the fiscal stimulus has a transitory response".

The latest economic report card capped a week of mixed economic news. The report was one of the last major economic indicators before Election Day (there will be one more jobs report released November 2). World GDP would fall further should Trump follow through on all his trade threats, including global duties on cars, the International Monetary Fund said. Economists monitor this measure for a better sense of underlying demand.

The widening trade gap chopped off 1.78 percentage points from GDP growth in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said it wasn't possible to estimate the overall impact to GDP from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in coastal North Carolina in mid-September.

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"The big swings in trade and inventories between the second and third quarters are likely at least partially due to changes in activity associated with trade policy", said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in NY.

Even so, the GDP figures give Trump a timely talking point during campaign rallies and yet another chance to claim the robust expansion for his own after the biggest tax overhaul since the Reagan era. Companies paused spending earlier than some economists expected given the fiscal boost from Republican-backed tax cuts.

The central bank has raised rates three times this year and signalled it will raise rates one more time this year and expect to raise rates three times in 2019. "That said, the US economy continues to grow in excess of the rate that most analysts consider to be its long-run potential growth rate".

During the past four quarters, the GDP has risen 3 cent, well above the 2.3 per cent growth during the year-earlier period.

The rate for the previous quarter was 4.2 percent, the highest since 2014.

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But business spending on equipment stalled in the third quarter and residential investment contracted for the third quarter in a row, adding to growing headwinds for the economy. Imports subtract from GDP growth.

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