Both personal income and consumer spending increased in February, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on March 31. Personal income increased $33.2 billion to an annual rate of $9.996 trillion last month. The three-tenths percent increase from January was just under the four-tenths percent that economists generally expected. Personal consumption expenditures increased $46.6 billion to rate of $8.536 trillion. The five-tenths of a percentage point increase from January was right in line with economists' forecasts. Consumer spending is a carefully watched economic indicator since such outlays account for about two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity.
New orders for manufactured goods in February increased six-tenths of a percentage point to $380.4 billion, the highest level in more than 10 years, the Commerce Department also reported on March 31. Spurred by aircraft orders, new orders for manufactured durable goods, generally large-ticket items designed to last three years or more, rose five-tenths of a percentage point to $200.9 billion. The increase was larger than the three-tenths percent rise initially reported. In contrast, new orders for manufactured nondurable goods decreased two-tenths of a percent point in February to $179.5 billion.