Personal spending—a major force in the health of the economy— rose just 0.1% in February, its smallest increase in 16 months, the Wall Street Journal reports. The increase, which actually beat analysts' estimate of a 0.1% decrease, came despite a bump in personal income and signs that inflation is easing, the Journal notes.
Another closely watched report today showed that consumer confidence is at a 16-year low, Bloomberg reports. The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment fell to 69,5 in March, down from 70.8 in February. The momentum is still down, and I expect we will see negative spending numbers in the second quarter,'' said one economist.