U.S. consumers spent slightly more in February following two straight monthly declines and their income rose by a healthy amount, a development that economists hope will keep boosting spending in coming months.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged up a tiny 0.1 percent last month following declines of 0.2 percent in both January and December. The result reflected a 0.4 percent increase in nondurable goods such as food and energy after three straight months of declines that stemmed from falling gasoline prices. Durable goods were down 0.1 percent, a drop that reflected weaker auto sales.

Income grew a solid 0.4 percent in February, matching January's rise. Economists are hopeful that continued strong income gains will lift consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.