Disappointed consumers temper US economy’s growth engine

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Bloomberg Washington/New York

American consumers’ hopes of completely and quickly escaping the clutches of Covid-19 have been dashed by a more contagious variant, renewed mask mandates and uncertainty surrounding in-person returns to schools.
A pickup in inflation, including higher costs for fuel and household energy, has also dimmed prospects for more robust spending and economic growth. By one measure, consumer sentiment slumped in August by the most since the darkest days of the pandemic. Another fell to its lowest since February.
Before the delta variant emerged, vaccines fuelled one of the strongest quarters in decades for household spending, a category that accounts for about two-thirds of economic growth. But odds of further outsize spending growth through year-end have been scaled back.
You think about the engine of growth from this spring through the early summer, it was this re-emergence of leisure activities and services spending and…

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