SPENDING GROWTH SLOWS: U. S. consumers increased their spending 0.2 percent in December, slightly slower than November's 0.4 percent gain.

INCOME SURGE: Income rose 2.6 percent in December from November, the biggest gain since 2004. Companies accelerated dividend payments ahead of tax increases for high-earners that began on Jan. 1. Wages and salaries grew 0.6 percent.

OUTLOOK: Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, is expected to slow this year. That's because consumers are receiving less take-home pay starting in January because of an increase in Social Security taxes.

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