US consumer spending was unchanged in December as households cut back on purchases of cars and unseasonably mild weather weighed on demand for utilities.

However a jump in savings to a three-year high suggested there is enough muscle to boost consumption in the months ahead. 

The US Commerce Department said the unchanged reading in consumer spending followed an upwardly revised 0.5% increase in November. 

When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending edged up 0.1% after a 0.4% gain in November. 

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, edging up 0.1% in December after a previously reported 0.3% gain in November.

US consumer spending increased 3.4% in 2015 after advancing 4.2% in 2014. 

That data was included in last Friday's fourth-quarter gross domestic product report, which showed consumer spending slowed to a 2.2% annual rate from the third quarter's brisk 3% pace. 

Moderate consumer spending, weak export growth and ongoing efforts by businesses to reduce unsold merchandise piled up in warehouses helped restrict economic growth to a 0.7% pace in the fourth quarter. 

More cutbacks in investment by energy firms struggling with lower oil prices also hurt GDP growth. 

In December, income rose 0.3% after a similar gain in November. Wages and salaries increased 0.2% after shooting up 0.5 percent in November. 

Income in 2015 increased 4.5%, the largest increase since 2012, after rising 4.4% in 2014. 

With income outpacing spending, savings surged to $753.3 billion in December, the highest level since December 2012, from $717.8 billion in November. 

Higher savings and rising house prices should help to soften the blow from a recent stock market sell-off and drive spending in early 2016.