U.S. economy slowed to 1.5 percent growth rate in third quarter

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By Martin Crutsinger

The U.S. economy slowed sharply in the summer, reflecting a cutback in businesses’ stockpiling of goods, which offset solid consumer spending. But most economists think growth has been strengthening since the July-September quarter ended.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a tepid annual rate of 1.5 percent in the July-September quarter, far below the 3.9 percent rate of the previous quarter.
The biggest reason was a push by businesses to shrink unwanted stockpiles, which slashed 1.4 percentage points from quarterly growth but is expected to be only temporary. Encouragingly for the economy, consumer spending remained solid over the summer: It rose at a 3.2 percent annual rate, down only slightly from the previous quarter.
And most analysts have said they think businesses are stepping up their stockpiling this quarter in response to the continued gains in consumer spending. Many predict that growth in the October-December quarter will rebound to around a 2.5 percent annual rate.
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