US consumer spending growth slowed in March after a strong February, even as personal income growth picked up pace, government data showed Monday.


Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of US economic activity, rose 0.3 percent in March, the Commerce Department reported.

That undershot the average analyst estimate of a 0.5 percent rise.

Excluding food and energy, spending rose 0.2 percent.

"Real consumer spending lost a little momentum toward the end of the first quarter, but wages rose at a solid 4.4 percent annualized pace between December and March and we expect that consumer spending (will continue) to be supported by improved hiring and wage growth," RDQ Economics analysts said in a research note.

In February, spending jumped a revised 0.9 percent, the strongest gain since August 2009.

As consumers tightened their wallets in March, personal income rose 0.4 percent, double expectations and picking up from 0.3 percent in February.

After adjusting for inflation, disposable income -- personal income less current taxes -- rose for the first time in three months in March, by 0.2 percent.

The personal saving rate edged up to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent in February, the lowest saving rate since December 2007, the beginning of a deep recession.

"A modest rise in the savings rate indicates that American households remain cautious about their spending," said Inna Mufteeva, an analyst at Natixis.

[Window shopping photo via NemesisINC / Shutterstock]