Closely watched U.S. consumer spending grew slightly in August while disposable income continued to get a boost from tax refunds, the government said on Monday. 

Spending, which has been underpinning the slowing economy but which is expected to drop off following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, grew 0.2 percent to an annual rate of $7.103 trillion. This compared with an upwardly revised 0.2 percent gain in July. 

The Commerce Department said personal income was unchanged in August at an $8.784 trillion annual rate compared to a 0.5 percent rise in July. 

The income figure was lower than expected. Economists in a Reuters poll forecast, on average, incomes grew by 0.3 percent while personal consumption was expected to rise 0.3 percent. 

The personal saving rate, which measures saving as a percentage of disposable income, was 4.1 percent, the highest since it hit 4.5 percent in November 1998. Commerce said the saving rate was also bolstered by special factors, including the tax rebates.