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Personal spending, income up
Both measures of family economics up 0.4 percent in March; spending rise less than expected.
April 30, 2004: 8:49 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Personal income gains kept pace with spending gains in March, according to government data, with the consumption rise below Wall Street expectations.

Consumer Spending

The Commerce Department put the rise in personal spending at 0.4 percent, compared with an upwardly revised 0.4 percent gain reported for February. Analysts surveyed by forecast personal spending to rise 0.7 percent in April.

Personal income increased 0.4 percent in March, compared with a revised 0.5 percent gain the previous month.'s forecast was for a 0.4 percent rise.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's economic activity. U.S. stock futures and bond prices both rose after the report.

While the spending number was below forecasts, that could be seen as moderating pressure on the Federal Reserve about when to raise interest rates to fight the rising risk of inflation. Other reports showing strong retail spending and rising prices suggested that the economy was overheating and in need of being cooled off. The Fed meets Tuesday.

Both spending and income increased only 0.1 percent in March when adjusted for increased prices. The report's price index, a measure of inflation, was up 0.3 percent in March, compared with a 0.2 percent rise in February.  Top of page

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