Washington – Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, was up 0.4 percent in April, the smallest increase percentage-wise of the past three months, the Commerce Department said Friday.
That result was slightly lower than analysts' forecast of a 0.5 percent increase.
Personal income, meanwhile, rose by 0.4 percent in April, in line with experts' projections, while wage and salary income climbed 0.4 percent in April after a 0.3 percent rise the previous month.
The report showed that disposable income remained almost unchanged for the second-consecutive month and the savings rate stayed at 4.9 percent, equivalent to the rate in March and the lowest since October 2008.
Thursday's report also showed that inflation has accelerated. The consumer price index was up 2.2 percent in April relative to the same month last year, the biggest increase of the past 12 months.
If volatile food and fuel prices are excluded from that index, prices have risen 1 percent over the last 12 months.
Consumers' confidence in the U.S. economy and their own personal financial situation rose more in May than expected, thanks in large part to the recent decline in the price of gasoline, according to the University of Michigan.
The definitive May figure from that institution's index showed consumer sentiment rose to 74.3, almost two points higher than the initial reading of 72.4 two weeks ago.
The index also came in higher than the 71-73 level forecast by analysts and the 69.8 registered in April.
The price of futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate was being negotiated Friday at around $100.70 per barrel, far below the almost $114 per barrel at the beginning of May. The same trend has occurred with the price of gasoline contracts, which has fallen from $3.46 a gallon to $3.02 per gallon in that same period.
The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index has fallen steadily since February - when it reached 77.5 points - due to higher fuel prices.