Economic growth in the U.S. may have topped 4 percent at an annualized rate in the third quarter, economists said after a Commerce Department report showed higher spending on services.
The world’s largest economy hasn’t exceeded 4 percent growth in consecutive quarters since 2003.
Revenue at healthcare providers rose 0.5 percent from July through September after a 3 percent gain in the second quarter, according to data on service industries that aren’t adjusted for seasonal swings or price changes.
While there were “no major fireworks,” the data did come out “slightly stronger” than the assumptions used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in its previous estimate of gross domestic product, Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote in a note to clients.
“It looked like pretty minor changes across different components that amounted to a small positive,” Silver said in a telephone interview. “It set us on a little stronger trajectory.”
JPMorgan raised its GDP tracking estimate to a 4.4 percent rate from 4.3 percent after the report, while economists at Barclays Plc lifted their forecast by 0.1 percentage point to 4.2 percent.
The latest Commerce Department estimate put U.S. growth at 3.9 percent in the three months ended in September after a 4.6 percent second-quarter pace that was the fastest since the end of 2011.
Wednesday’s Quarterly Services Survey, together with additional upcoming data, will be used by the agency to adjust growth estimates in the next GDP report, scheduled for release on Dec. 23.
Even with the strength shown in the last two quarters, the underlying trend for the economy is probably closer to a 3 percent rate or less, Silver said. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg project GDP will expand 2.2 percent this year before accelerating to 3 percent in 2015.
The services report, which was first released in 2004, is available about 75 days after the end of each quarter, according to the Census Bureau.
The sample includes about 5,000 services businesses in industries including hospitals, waste management, and administrative and support.
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