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(TNS)—Consumer spending, a key driver of the U.S. economy, showed solid growth last month to kick off the holiday shopping season as incomes also kept rising, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

After spending stagnated in October, Americans opened their wallets wider last month. Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent in November, in line with economists’ forecasts.

Income growth slowed a bit, increasing 0.3 percent in November. Incomes had increased 0.4 percent the previous month.

Still, November was the eighth straight month that incomes rose, an encouraging sign for the economic recovery.

The combination of increased spending and slightly slower income growth led consumers to save at a slower pace. The percentage of disposable income saved ticked down to 5.5 percent in November, though still a relatively high number.

Inflation remained low, with a key price index increasing less than 0.1 percent in November. For the 12 months ended Nov. 30, prices increased just 0.4 percent.

A major factor in the recent low inflation has been a steep drop in oil costs. Excluding volatile energy and food, so-called core prices increased 1.3 percent for the 12 months ended Nov. 30.

Federal Reserve policymakers want to see annual inflation of 2 percent. Convinced that low inflation is a temporary result of the drop in oil prices, Fed officials last week increased a key interest rate for the first time since 2006.

Some of November’s consumer spending data was inadvertently released Wednesday night, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“BEA will take steps to ensure that this does not happen again and will take all appropriate action to safeguard economic data,” the agency says.

 ©2015 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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