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Consumer spending and incomes rose in October

Consumer spending and incomes rose in October
Shoppers sit with bags at Union Square in San Francisco on Nov. 25. U.S. consumers boosted their spending again in October, while their incomes increased at the fastest clip in six months, according to the Commerce Department. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Consumers boosted their spending again in October, while their incomes increased at the fastest clip in six months. A key gauge of inflation watched by the Federal Reserve posted the fastest 12-month gain in two years. 

Consumer spending increased 0.3% in October after a revised 0.7% jump in September, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Incomes increased 0.6%, the best showing since April.

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An inflation gauge closely followed by the Federal Reserve increased 1.4% compared with a year ago. That was the fastest 12-month advance since 2014. The rise was still below the Fed's 2% target, but with inflation firming, the Fed is expected to boost a key interest rate next month.

The inflation gain marked the strongest pace since prices had risen 1.5% for the 12 months ending in October 2014.

By comparison, the 12-month increase a year ago was a tiny 0.3% during a time when oil prices were plunging. The absence of inflationary pressures has been a key reason the Fed has been slow to boost its benchmark interest rate. But with prices rising, the central bank is widely expected to increase the rate by a quarter-point at its December meeting, a year after it raised rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

With incomes rising faster than spending, the saving rate jumped to 6% in October, up from 5.7% in September.

The rise in spending reflected a 1% increase in purchases of durable goods such as autos and a 1.4% rise in spending on nondurable goods. Spending on services such as doctor's visits and utilities fell by 0.2% in October.

Spending is closely watched since it accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity. The overall economy grew at a solid 3.2% rate in the July-September quarter. Analysts believe growth will slow a bit to around 2% in the current quarter.

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