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6/1/2003

Economic reports hold mixed information

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON A new government report Friday further confirmed that the U.S. economy remained weak in April, but two private ones suggested that economic activity may improve in coming months.

The Commerce Department reported that personal income was unchanged last month and personal consumption spending fell 0.1 percent. However, the latter had increased 0.8 percent in March, and analysts said consumer spending is likely to continue to provide modest economic growth.

The analysts also noted that the price index for personal consumption spending fell 0.2 percent last month, which meant that after adjustment for inflation, spending rose slightly. After a similar adjustment, after-tax personal incomes rose 0.3 percent last month.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Purchasing Managers index, which tracks manufacturing activity, rose to 52.2 from 47.6, indicating activity is expanding after two months of contraction.