Today’s government report reveals that gross domestic product growth has decreased slightly from the 4.2% growth seen in Q2 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.5% for Q3.
- GDP expanded 3.5%, down from 4.2%
- The growth surpassed expectations of economists polled by Dow Jones who forecasted 3.4%
- The PCE Index which helps measure inflation increased by 1.6% instead of the forecasted 2.2%
- Consumer spending grew 4%, the highest growth since Q4 2014
The July-September quarter saw less inflation with the core personal consumption expenditure index (excluding food and energy) coming in at 1.6% compared to 2.1% in Q2 - StreetAccount economists had expected 2.2%. The overall price consumption expenditures (PCE) index rose 1.6% compared to 2% last quarter.
“The advance [in GDP] was driven by another strong reading on household spending, which shot ahead by a full 4%,” said Royce Mendes of CIBC Economics. “The other major driver of growth was a robust rebound in inventories, which had seen a draw down in the prior quarter as foreign buyers pulled ahead purchases in an attempt to get ahead of their own country’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Exports, however, suffered in the quarter for the same reason as outbound shipments came back down to earth following that artificial boost.”
Mendes pointed out that business fixed investment was flat in Q3 which is “possibly a sign that the most potent effects of the tax cuts are now in the rearview mirror.”
Raymond James chief economist Scott Brown said: "The headline was not too far from expectations, but we did get a few surprises. Consumer was stronger than we expected. The consumer accounts for 68 percent of overall GDP, and the consumer really drives the bus. Business to be sure, but there's got to be consumption at the end of it."
Trade War Impact
The economy has slowed down, but not as much as previously expected thanks to the strongest consumer spending since Q4 2014 with 4% growth in that area. The growth may have offset the negative effects of tariffs such as the drop in soybean exports which was one of the factors in the economists predictions for the slowdown.
The tariffs between the US and China as a result of the recent trade war are now in the billions, leading to concerns that the battle between the world’s two largest economies will cause global economy will suffer as a consequence.
Gold Market Reaction
Spot gold has held gains of 0.45% and is now trading at $1,234.77 an ounce, up $1.77 from prices directly preceding the report.
December Comex Futures are up 0.4% and trading at $1,237.20 an ounce at the time of writing.