U.S. consumer spending posted a tiny gain for the third straight month in February while income growth slowed sharply.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged up 0.1 percent in February, matching similar lackluster gains in January and December. Personal incomes rose a modest 0.2 percent in February after a much stronger 0.5 percent rise in January. The slowdown reflected a 0.1 percent drop in wages and salaries, the first drop in this key category since September.

Despite recent weakness, economists are still looking for consumer spending to accelerate this year as solid gains in employment boost incomes and fuel more spending.

A key price gauge followed by the Federal Reserve showed prices fell 0.1 percent in February and are up just 1 percent over the past 12 months.