U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, beating economists' expectations but slower than Q2's 4.2% pace, the Commerce Department said Friday.

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Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The big picture: The economy is on track for its best performance since 2005.

  • Strong consumer spending and a pick-up in government spending were among the biggest contributors to GDP, while a downturn in exports took a bite out of growth.
  • For full-year GDP growth to come in above 3%, which would be a major win for President Trump, growth in the fourth quarter would need to hit 3.3%, according to Jason Furman, former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman in the Obama administration:

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Stocks close down more than 3%

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

Stocks took a hit on Wednesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials Average and Nasdaq dropping more than 3% across the board.

Why it matters: The volatility is a break from the stock market grinding higher in the face of spiking coronavirus cases, a stalling economy and gridlocked negotiations over an additional stimulus package.

Zeta, now a Category 2 Hurricane, closes in on Louisiana coast

The probable path of Zeta, per the National Hurricane Center. Photo: NHC/NOAA

Zeta strengthened on Wednesday afternoon, on track to make landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana by the afternoon as a "significant" Category 2 hurricane, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Zeta is producing 100-mph maximum sustained winds and stronger gusts. The storm is gaining strength as it heads northeastward at 20 mph. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.