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US Consumer Spending Jumps Most in Five Months

The U.S. says consumer spending climbed in February by the most in five months, a sign of the country's improving economy.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending advanced seven-tenths of a percent last month, partly generated by a 1.1 percent gain in wages. The increase in consumer spending was the largest since September.

Household purchases are closely watched in the U.S., where consumer demand drives about 70 percent of the world's largest economy. The government said that while American motorists were faced with higher gasoline costs in February, they also bought more automobiles and spent more on services.

Most economists have predicted that the U.S. economy has grown by about 2.5 percent in the first three months of the year, a sharp improvement over the meager four-tenths of a percent gain in the October-to-December period. The moribund U.S. housing market has picked up and key stock indexes have reached all-time highs.

American employers have been adding about 200,000 new jobs a month. The country's jobless rate has declined, but at 7.7 percent remains high by U.S. historical standards.

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