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November 17, 2009

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Retail sales in US higher than expected

SALES at retailers in the United States rose more than expected in October as consumers bought more motor vehicles and other goods, but the previous month's figures were revised sharply downward, a government report showed yesterday.

In a report that pointed to gradual improvement in spending, the Commerce Department said total retail sales increased 1.4 percent last month, the largest advance since August, after dropping by a revised 2.3 percent in September. Sales in September were previously reported to have declined by 1.5 percent.

Analysts had forecast headline retail sales rising 1 percent last month. Sales in October were boosted by a jump in new vehicle and parts sales, which surged 7.4 percent.

Auto sales had slumped 14.3 percent the previous month following the expiration of the government's popular "Cash-for-Clunkers" incentive program in August that had buoyed demand for motor vehicles. Previously, the government reported auto sales falling 10.4 percent in September.

With government stimulus behind the bulk of the economy's 3.5 percent annualized growth pace in the third quarter, there are fears rising unemployment will continue to weigh on consumer spending and hold back the recovery.

Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales rose by a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent in October after increasing 0.4 percent in September.

Gasoline station sales were flat after rising 0.9 percent in September. Core retail sales excluding autos, gasoline and building materials rose 0.5 percent. Sales of building materials dropped 2.4 percent.


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