A worse-than-expected fall in American consumers' September expenditure has scraped the gloss from last week's barnstorming third-quarter growth figures [WAMN: 31-Oct-03].

The Commerce Department found that consumer spend - which accounts for around two-thirds of stateside economic activity - dipped 0.3% in September, worse than the 0.1% fall expected by economists.

The decline - which followed a revised 1.1% rise in August - reflected a sharp drop in purchases of big-ticket items, and especially cars.

Consumer expenditure on durable goods - those designed to last more than three years - slumped 5.1%, while spending on non-durables crept up 0.3%.

• Separately, the University of Michigan recorded an improvement in US consumer sentiment during October. The University's confidence index rose to 89.6 at the end of last month, up from 87.7 in September.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff