Economic Growth Slowed to 3.5 Percent in Third Quarter

In this Aug. 22, 2018, photo trucks travel along a loading dock at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

(CN) — The U.S. economy grew at an estimated annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, down from a robust 4.2 percent rate it saw in April through June, the Commerce Department said Friday.

According to the government, the nation’s gross domestic product was buoyed somewhat by consumer spending, which offset a sharp decline in business spending in the wake of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two thirds of the nation’s economic activity, grew by 4 percent in the third quarter, the strongest since the fourth quarter of 2014.

Business spending, meanwhile declined 7.9 percent, the biggest quarterly decline in business spending since the first quarter of 2016.

That said, the growth numbers in Friday’s report were higher than many economists expected, and in and of themselves they certainly suggest the economy was on a decent footing through the summer.

But the slowdown, coupled with recent significant stock market declines, now have some worrying about an even sharper economic slowdown as winter approaches.

Helping stoke those concerns are the aforementioned tariffs, particularly those slapped on China, which have increased fears that rougher seas when it comes to trade will put the brakes on the global economy.

Despite the good numbers for growth in the summer, stocks fell sharply at the open of securities markets Friday, mostly due to disappointing quarterly results from the tech sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 307 points at the open, while the S&P 500 fell 1.4 percent. The Nasdaq Composite fell 2.6 percent.

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