WASHINGTON (AP) - Higher gas prices account for much of the increase in consumer spending for August.
Spending was up by 0.9 percent -- but not counting the impact of gas prices and an increase in auto sales, there was just a tenth-of-a-point increase.
Gas prices are up by more than 50 cents a gallon in the past two months, with the national average reaching $3.87 a gallon today. And since the stimulus measures announced by the Federal Reserve are pushing oil prices up, gas prices could rise some more -- putting more of a crimp on consumer spending.
Consumers spent less in August on clothing and electronics, and at general merchandise outlets. Those are discretionary purchases that typically signal confidence in the economy.
Chris Christopher, an economist at HIS Global Insight, says, "Consumers were not willing to spend much at the mall since they are feeling the pump price pinch."