Consumer spending up near the end of 2012!

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Spending by U.S. consumers actually rose near the end of 2012. Incomes also climbed, suggesting that the 4th quarter's economic growth may have been stronger than expected.

The U.S. Commerce Department released a statement saying that consumer spending when adjusted for inflation rose 0.6 percent. After-tax income rose 0.8 percent adjusted for inflation.

Economists who were interviewed by Reuters said they had expected consumer spending to rise less than it did.

The rise in consumer spending was the largest increase since mid-2009. It suggests that purchases by consumers were not suffering as much as had been expected from increasing fears that the economy could be slipping into recession.

Most economists think economic growth will slow in the fourth quarter from the 3.1 percent pace of growth clocked in the prior three months, but Friday's data points to consumers offsetting some of the drag expected from an expected decline in the pace at which companies restock their shelves.

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