Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

U.S. traders start the week with retail sales and the Empire Fed

U.S. traders start the week with retail sales and the Empire Fed

US retail and food services sales in March came in at $494.6 billion, for an increase of 0.6 percent compared with February, the Census Bureau reported on Monday.

Total sales for the January 2018 through March 2018 period were up 4.1% from the same period a year ago. Excluding automobiles and gasoline, sales advanced 0.3 percent for a second month.

Retail trade sales were up 0.6% from February 2018, and 4.7% above a year ago. So-called retail control-group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, gained 0.4 percent, matching estimates.

Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at a robust 4.0 percent annualised rate in the fourth quarter.

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Personal consumption and retail spending had disappointed analysts in recent months, feeding expectations the United States economy will see slower growth in the first quarter of the year.

Even with the bounceback, consumer spending probably expanded at a slower pace in the first quarter. Also up for the month, each by less than 1 percent, were furniture stores, electronics stores. grocery stores, restaurants and of course non-store (Internet) sales, which were up 0.8 percent. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores was the only other sector to post a year-over-year sales decline in March - down 3.3%. Year-over-year core sales increased 4.5%.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for April, released Monday, fell one point to 69.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies", NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement.

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