The US economy grew at its fastest rate in two years throughout the third quarter of 2016, says NAB – but the performance is unlikely to be repeated in the final quarter of 2016.
The September quarter saw US GDP growth up 2.9 per cent on an annualised basis, which NAB said was driven by “a turnaround in inventory accumulation and a strong net export contribution”, with the latter owing in part to a surge in soybean exports.
“In contrast, business investment remains subdued, while housing investment again declined and consumption growth slowed down to a more moderate pace,” said NAB senior economist international Antony Kelly.
Third quarter data was consistent with a moderation in growth, Mr Kelly said, but the improving labour market conditions, decent consumer confidence and strong household balance sheets seen through the US should support solid consumption growth.
NAB left its forecasts for US GDP growth steady at 1.5 per cent for 2016 and 2.1 per cent for 2017 Mr Kelly said.
“The September quarter GDP outcome suggests that the US economy continues to grow at a moderate rate,” he said.
“With productivity growth subdued, this is enough to generate solid employment growth.”
AllianceBernstein US economist Joseph Carson agreed that the make-up of the gain meant “the faster pace isn’t likely to be repeated in the current quarter” as no underlying trend was evident.
“Instead, over three-fourths of the gain in merchandise exports was centred in agricultural exports, which advanced over 200 per cent annualised in the period — the largest quarterly jump since 1969,” he said.
“That gain accounted for almost one-third of the overall advance in real GDP. Outside of the agricultural sector, export trends look mixed at best.”