Washington — The US economy slowed less than expected in the third quarter as a tariff-related drop in soybean exports was partially offset by the strongest consumer spending in nearly four years, keeping growth on track to hit the Trump administration’s 3% target this year. Gross domestic product increased at a 3.5% annualised rate also supported by a surge in inventory investment and solid government spending, the Commerce Department said on Friday in its first estimate of third-quarter GDP growth. While that was a slowdown from a 4.2% pace in the second quarter, it still exceeded the economy’s growth potential, which economists put at about 2%. But there were red flags to the economic expansion that is now in its ninth year and the second longest on record. Business spending stalled and residential investment declined for a third straight quarter, signs that the boost from a $1.5-trillion tax cut was fading and higher interest rates were hurting the housing market. ‘Day of reckon...

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