ECONOMY

Consumer spending climbs

Consumer spending inched up last month, rising at a rate well below expectations, as cautious Americans saved more of their growing incomes, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Personal consumption expenditures increased just 0.1 percent for the second straight month. Economists had expected a 0.3 percent increase.

The slow pace of spending by consumers — a category that accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity — could be a warning sign to Federal Reserve policymakers as they consider whether to hike a key interest rate next month. But consumers also could have started saving in anticipation of the holiday spending season.

In a positive sign, personal income jumped 0.4 percent in October, twice the pace of growth of the previous month.

FOOD

Costco’s E. coli strain riskier

The strain of E. coli linked to Costco chicken salad that sickened 19 people in seven states is more likely to be life-threatening than a recent outbreak that closed some Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest.

Health officials urged people who bought chicken salad at any U.S. Costco store on or before Friday to throw it away, even if no one has gotten sick.

The strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can be life-threatening, but no deaths have been reported. Five people have been hospitalized and two have developed a type of kidney failure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC and state health officials were investigating and have not yet determined what ingredient in the rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores could be the source of the outbreak.

GAMBLING

Internet betting grows slowly

Internet gambling is slowly growing — but not expanding — after 2½ years of online betting in the United States.

Online gambling revenue is increasing in at least two of the three states that currently offer it — New Jersey and Delaware. The third, Nevada, doesn’t report Internet revenue separately.

But a hoped-for wave of expansion has not happened as many states sit on the sidelines and assess the costs and benefits of the nascent industry.

San Francisco-based Gambling Compliance predicts either California or Pennsylvania will approve Internet gambling next year, followed by New York and Mississippi in subsequent years.

REAL ESTATE

Average mortgage rate slips

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates slipped this week after they climbed recently on expectations that the Federal Reserve may soon raise its key short-term interest rate.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Wednesday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 3.95 percent from 3.97 percent a week earlier. The key 30-year rate was nearly unchanged from its level of a year ago, 3.97 percent. But the average has increased over the past months from 3.76 at the end of October. The average on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.18 percent.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.