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Personal income up slightly

Americans' personal income rose slightly last month -- a sign of a somewhat stronger, but by no means robust, economy. The Commerce Department reported a July gain of 0.4 percent, the same as June's 0.4 percent increase. In May, personal income declined 0.7 percent; that was the first setback in more than two years.

Americans also increased their spending last month by 0.4 percent, which matched the June increase. Both months were down from a 0.7 percent gain in May. After-tax income rose 0.4 percent in July after plunging 2.5 percent in June. The June drop, however, reflected the absence of a big surge in tax-refund payments made in May.

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The personal income report for July follows a string of economic reports that have pointed to a weak economy. Unemployment remained stuck at 7.3 percent for the sixth straight month, and retail sales, industrial production, and housing construction all showed weakness.