U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in more than four and a half years in March, cementing views the economy ended a dismal first-quarter on solid footing.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that consumer spending increased 0.9 percent after rising by a revised 0.5 percent in February.
March’s gain was the biggest since August 2009. Spending was previously reported to have increased 0.3 in February.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rising 0.6 percent in March.
The report added to data ranging from employment to industrial production in suggesting there was momentum in the economy at the tail end of a very difficult first quarter, which provides a springboard for faster growth in the April-June period.
The economy grew at an only 0.1 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year. Economists and Federal Reserve officials, however, pinned the slowdown on the impact of a brutal winter. A moderation in the pace of restocking by businesses, which is likely temporary, also weighed on growth.