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Consumer spending increased 0.6 percent in September, surprising in light of the meager 0.1 percent gain in personal income. As a result, the saving rate plunged to 3.6 percent, its lowest level since before the recession. This is the third consecutive month that spending has outpaced income. There are several reasons for this. Pent-up demand has been building, coaxing consumers to loosen up a little despite the abysmal consumer confidence readings....
Retail sales were flat in August compared with July according to the Census Bureau even though many individual retailers had previously reported decent back-to-school sales numbers. Core retail sales, which exclude autos and gas, rose 0.1 percent. Hurricane Irene may have played a role, boosting sales at grocery and home improvement stores, which rose 0.3 and 0.2 percent, respectively, while depressing sales elsewhere. Year-over-year, total sales were up 7.2 percent while core sales increased 5.4 percent - healthy gains though a deceleration from July's performance.