Consumer spending up 0.4 percent in January

Associated Press file photo by Mark Lennihan --Pedestrians on Jan. 14 pass an H&M storefront window advertising discounts up to 75 percent, in New York. The Commerce Department reports how much consumers spent and earned in January on Monday, March 3, 2014. Show caption
Associated Press file photo by Mark Lennihan --Pedestrians on Jan. 14 pass an H&M storefront window advertising discounts up to 75 percent, in New York. The Commerce Department reports how much consumers spent and earned in January on Monday, March 3, 2014.

WASHINGTON — Americans boosted spending in January despite the harsh winter weather but activity was much weaker in December than initially reported.

The Commerce Department says that spending rose 0.4 percent in January following a tiny 0.1 percent gain in December which had initially been reported as a stronger 0.4 percent increase. Income grew 0.3 percent in January following no increase at all in December.

The spending gain was better than expected but it came after the sharp downward revision in December.

Consumer spending is closely watched because it drives 70 percent of economic activity. The government reported Friday that the overall economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, down sharply from an initial estimate of 3.2 percent growth during the quarter.