U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years in May on strong demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items, further evidence that economic growth was gathering momentum in the second quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday consumer spending increased 0.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since August 2009, after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent rise in April.
The sturdy increases suggested households were finally spending some of the windfall from lower gasoline prices, and capped a month of solid economic reports.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, was previously reported to have been unchanged in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.7 percent rise in May.
It was the latest sign that growth was accelerating after gross domestic product shrank at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter as the economy battled bad weather, port disruptions, a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector.
From employment to the housing market, the economic data in May has been bullish. Even manufacturing, which is struggling with the lingering effects of dollar strength and lower energy prices, also is starting to stabilize.