Consumers spend less on goods
WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumers increased spending modestly in January but cut back on major purchases that signal confidence in the economy. The decline in spending on goods suggests higher tax rates that kicked in on Jan. 1 may have made consumers more cautious.
The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in January compared with December. The gain was driven by an increase in spending on services, partly reflecting higher heating bills.
Spending on durable goods, such as cars and appliances, fell 0.8 percent. Spending on non-durable goods, such as clothing, was essentially flat.
Income plunged 3.6 percent in January, the biggest drop since January 1993. But it followed a 2.6 percent rise in December, which reflected a rush by companies to pay dividends and bonuses before income taxes increased on top earners.