WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans boosted their spending at the fastest pace in more than two years in the January-March quarter, but they may have taken a breather in April.
Economists forecast that consumer spending was unchanged last month, according to a survey by FactSet. That would follow a 0.2 percent gain in March. Americans' incomes are expected to have increased 0.2 percent in April, the same as the previous month.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to release the report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Consumer spending jumped 3.4 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter, the department said Thursday. The overall economy grew at a 2.4 percent pace, much faster than the fourth quarter's 0.4 percent expansion.
There are signs Americans have continued spending since then. Excluding gasoline sales and other volatile categories, retail sales rose in April at a healthy pace.
And consumer confidence soared in May, as Americans' outlook on the job market improved. That could make more people willing to spend, particularly on big-ticket items.
Home prices, meanwhile, have surged in the past year. That typically makes homeowners feel wealthier and more likely to shop. Some economists estimate that for every dollar increase in home values, consumer spending can rise by 8 to 10 cents.
Those trends may help offset big tax increases that took effect at the beginning of the year and steep government spending cuts that kicked in March 1. Social Security taxes rose 2 percentage points Jan. 1. That cost the typical household earning $50,000 about $1,000.
But other factors may limit last month's spending. Auto sales slowed in April to an annual rate of 14.9 million. That's the first time that figure has fallen below 15 million since October.
Consumers also likely spent less on utilities in April, economists expect. Big increases in utility spending helped boost consumption in the first three months of the year.
Job gains have also boosted confidence and provided more money for Americans to spend. But average hourly pay has barely kept up with inflation in the past year, limiting Americans' purchasing power.