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U.S. consumer spending rises 0.2% in December

Updated:2010-02-02 09:40:49

U.S. consumer spending edged up 0.2 percent in December 2009, slightly lower than economists' expectations, and personal income rose 0.4 percent from the previous month, said a government report released Monday.

The Commerce Department said the consumer spending increase in December was the third consecutive monthly rise. The figure was up 0.7 percent in November. Most analysts had forecast a 0.3 percent rise in both spending and income.

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, is a key factor that indicates the trend of the economy.

On a 12-month basis, spending was up 1.8 percent and incomes rose 1.5 percent from December 2008.

The Commerce Department release showed the personal savings rate -- the savings ratio to disposable income -- advanced to 4.8 percent in December, the highest level since June, while disposable income rose 0.4 percent, down a tick from November.

Since the burst of the financial crisis, American people have been adding their savings gradually.

The government's initial estimate put economic growth at 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 at an annual pace. But economists worry growth may slow down when the government stimulus policies begin to wane in the circumstance of a 26-year-high unemployment, heavy debt loads and still tight credit conditions.

The unemployment rate, currently at 10 percent, is not expected to fall significantly this year.




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