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December 15, 2016

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US retail sales flat as buying reduced

US retail sales barely rose in November as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles, suggesting some loss of momentum in economic growth in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department said yesterday retail sales edged up 0.1 percent after two straight months of strong gains. October retail sales were revised downward to show a 0.6 percent increase instead of the previously reported 0.8 percent rise.

Sales rose 3.8 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales also nudged up 0.1 percent last month after a downwardly revised 0.6 percent increase in October.

These so-called core retail sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, were previously reported to have risen 0.8 percent in October.

Economists had forecast overall retail sales adding 0.3 percent and core sales also gaining 0.3 percent last month.

The softer-than-expected retail sales numbers last month suggest some cooling in consumer spending in the fourth quarter after solid gains in the July-September period. Still, consumers should continue to support economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Data on the labor market, manufacturing and housing have offered a fairly upbeat view of the economy early in the fourth quarter.


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