U.S. consumers remained conservative spenders in August and prices for goods and services held tame, including the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation gauge, the Commerce Department reported on Friday.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose 0.1% last month after a revised 0.5% gain the month before. Economists polled by FactSet had forecast consumer spending advancing 0.3% last month.
The numbers suggested U.S. consumers were taking a more prudent approach to opening their wallets, a sign that economic growth may remain tepid in the third quarter.
Consumer prices as measured by the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index were flat in August as a drop in the cost of food was offset by a surge in energy goods and services. The PCE price index edged up 0.2% in July. Core PCE, closely watched by the Fed, rose 0.1% vs. expectations of 0.2%.
In the 12 months through August, the PCE price index increased 1.4% after gaining 1.4% in July. Core PCE for the 12 months was 1.8%, matching consensus.
The core PCE index is the Fed's preferred inflation measure and has undershot the U.S. central bank's 2% target this year.
The economy grew at a 2% annualized rate in the second quarter, slowing from the January-March quarter's brisk 3.1% pace, the Commerce Department said Thursday.