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Consumer spending rises for 5th straight month

The 0.3% increase comes even as incomes remain flat.

March 30, 2010|Bloomberg News

Consumer spending in the U.S. rose in February for a fifth consecutive month, a rebound that will require gains in employment in order to be sustained.

The 0.3% increase in purchases matched the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and followed a 0.4% advance in January, Commerce Department figures showed Monday. Incomes were unchanged, falling short of expectations as winter storms hurt hiring and hours worked.

"Considering the circumstances, this is a fine performance with the job market still not strong," said Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Securities America Inc. in New York. "As the labor market comes back, we should see continued support from consumers."

The lack of change in incomes followed a 0.3% increase in January. The median estimate of economists surveyed called for a 0.1% advance. Wages and salaries were also little changed after climbing 0.4% in January.

Because spending rose and incomes were unchanged, the savings rate fell to 3.1% last month, the lowest level since October 2008.

Adjusted for inflation, spending also climbed 0.3%, the best performance since November. Price-adjusted spending on durable goods, such as autos, furniture and other long-lasting items, fell 0.2% in February.

Purchases of nondurable goods increased 0.9%, the biggest gain since January 2009.

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