Retail sales rebound in sign consumer weakness fading

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NRF's numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall March sales - including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants - were up 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and up 4.5 percent year-over-year. This was borne out in the "control group" used in calculating GDP, which excludes gasoline, autos, building materials, and food services, and was up a sound 0.4 percent on the month, matching market projections.

The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up 0.2 percent over January and 4.3 percent year over year. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter.

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

"Our latest Quarterly Forecast calls for healthy consumer spending through the remainder of 2018, with growth in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent-3.0 percent annualized", added TD Economics. The results reinforce a Federal Reserve prediction that the declines were transitory, following increased spending after two hurricanes that struck the United States a year ago.

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Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1% year-over-year but down 0.8% from February seasonally adjusted.

The other major winning retail category for the month was health and personal care stores, which spiked 1.4 percent compared with February. Sales at restaurants and bars gained 0.4 percent.

Sales by non-store retailers and furniture and home furnishing stores also saw notable growth, although the increases were partly offset by a steep drop in sales by sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.

In a separate report on Monday, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State index tumbled seven points to a reading of 15.8 in April.

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