American consumers boosted their spending by just 0.1% in August, the smallest gain in six months, even as their incomes rose at a solid pace.
The Commerce Department says that personal income increased 0.4%, up from a small gain in the previous month. A measure of inflation preferred by the Federal Reserve was flat, but excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices ticked up 0.1%.
Consumers are a key driver of the economy as businesses have cut their investment spending and exports have slipped. August’s modest gain follows several months of healthy increases. Consumer confidence is at historically high levels, though it slipped this month in a sign that the U.S.-China trade war is raising economic uncertainties.