According to the U.S. Commerce Department, consumer spending on durable goods, including appliances, increased 1.8 percent in December 2003, up 1 percent from November.
Americans' incomes, meanwhile, rose by 0.2 percent in December, following a 0.3 percent rise in November. The economy grew at a 4-percent annual rate in the October to December fourth quarter, as consumers spent at a 2.6 percent rate, down from a 6.9-percent growth rate in the third quarter.
Analysts predicted a slowdown in economic growth at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but economists are optimistic that consumer spending -- helped by tax refunds -- is picking up in the current quarter and will help the economy expand at a rate of more than 4 percent.
In the report, income growth in December was on target with analysts' projections, while the spending increase was slightly weaker than the 0.5 percent rise that some economists previously forecast.
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