The U.S. economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, the Commerce Department said this morning. That's not just an increase from the second quarter’s 1.4 percent pace but the strongest quarter of growth in two years.
Exports jumped in the third quarter at a 10.0 percent annual pace, boosted by a summer surge in soybean exports. Imports rose at a more modest 2.3 percent rate; overall, net exports contributed 0.83 percentage point to last quarter’s GDP growth rate.
Consumer spending slowed to a 2.1 percent annual growth rate from the second quarter’s robust 4.3 percent reading, but spending on durable goods remained strong. In all, personal-consumption expenditures added 1.47 percentage points, or almost exactly half, to the quarter’s 2.9 percent growth rate for total GDP.