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American Consumers Buying into Possible Recovery


Consumers in the world's biggest economy are feeling more confident and slowly starting to spend more money.

An index of consumer confidence in the United States - The Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers - jumped to its highest level in more than 15 months.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that purchases rose three-tenths of a percent in May, the first increase in spending in three months.

But the report also shows U.S. consumers are still wary and saving money at the highest rate in more than 15 years.

Officials say both spending and savings appear to have been boosted by the government's economic stimulus package, which helped push incomes higher last month.

The slight increase in consumer spending and heavier focus on saving comes even as other reports show more people are losing their jobs.

A Labor Department report said Thursday that the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation rose by 15,000 last week, to a total of 627,000.

A separate report Thursday from the U.S. Commerce Department showed the economy is shrinking at a slower pace than first thought.

Officials said the country's gross domestic product shrank at a 5.5 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year. That rate is a bit less (two-tenths of a percent) than earlier estimates.

The GDP measures all the goods and services produced in the nation, and is the broadest gauge of the economy.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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