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US consumer spending jumps 0.9 percent in March: gov't

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer spending jumped 0.9 percent in March, the largest increase in nearly five years, adding evidence the economy was rebounding from a deep winter freeze, official data showed Thursday.

Consumers opened their wallets to buy a broad range of goods and services last month. Consumption of durable goods soared 2.7 percent, with purchases of cars and trucks accounting for more than half of the increase.

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, grew in March the most since August 2009, much stronger than analysts expected. The average estimate was for a gain of 0.6 percent.

The February increase in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was revised up to 0.5 percent from the prior reading of 0.3 percent.

Personal income increased 0.5 percent in March after increasing 0.4 percent in February. Wages and salaries, the largest component of personal income, increased 0.6 percent after increasing 0.3 percent.

Inflation remained tame. The PCE price index increased 0.2 percent in March after increasing 0.1 percent in February. Excluding food and energy, core PCE prices rose 0.2 percent in March.

Compared with a year ago, PCE prices were up 1.1 percent and core PCE prices rose 1.2 percent, well below the Federal Reserve's 2.0 percent target for price stability.

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