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US economy keeps robust 3% growth in 3rd quarter

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Washington (AFP)

The world's largest economy continued to expand at a robust pace in third quarter despite being battered by multiple hurricanes, the US Commerce Department reported Friday.

Hitting President Donald Trump's growth target for the second quarter in a row, US GDP grew at three percent for the July-September period, official figures showed.

Though only a preliminary estimate, the result handily overshot analyst estimates, which had called for a result of 2.4 percent -- showing the US had easily absorbed the shocks of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which badly interrupted economic activity and in Texas and Florida and laid waste to the island territory of Puerto Rico.

The result could fuel arguments among lawmakers as Republican leaders on Capitol Hill pursue sweeping tax cuts -- which they say an expanding economy will finance.

President Trump took office vowing to return the United States to sustained three percent annual GDP growth or better, but economists say this is unrealistic.

The outcome, however, was sure to be hailed by the White House, where President Donald Trump has hastened to take credit for the economy's performance since his inauguration in January, even though his economic agenda is a work in progress that remains in doubt.

Growth in the third quarter reflected strong consumer spending and business investment -- which were partly offset by sagging home sales and falling state and local government spending.

Officials stressed that the "advance" estimate was subject to revision as more of the underlying data become available.

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