Consumer Spending Rises in December

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Statistics show Americans are beginning to spend again as consumer spending rose in December, giving a boost to the nation's weak economy.

The Commerce Department reported spending grew by 0.7 last month, the sixth consecutive monthly increase.

For the year, consumers boosted spending by 3.5 percent in 2010, which was the best performance since the recession began in 2007.

The government reported Friday that consumer spending rose at a 4.4 percent rate in the final three months of 2010 - the most since 2006 and helping retailers to the best holiday shopping season in that time.

Economists expect a cut in Social Security taxes will lift January's spending and incomes even further than last month.

But Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said the boost could be short-lived without job growth.

Economists expect a slowly improving job market and a payroll tax cut will boost spending further in 2011.

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