Americans stepped up spending in July for the first time in three months as an increase in incomes helped make up for a jobless rate stuck above 8 percent.
Purchases increased 0.4 percent after being little changed in June, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Other reports today showed consumer confidence held close to a seven-month low, and claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged.
Stronger household spending is fueling sales at retailers such as Gap Inc. and may set the stage for a pickup in economic growth. At the same time, more expensive gasoline may prompt shoppers to watch their wallets, while a slowing global economy makes employers cautious about hiring.
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