US retail sales surprise in February

| March 14, 2010
US retail sales surprise in February

US retail sales grew unexpectedly in February by 0.3% after economists had predicted a fall of 0.2% due to bad weather, which gripped most of the country during part of the month.

According to the Commerce Department, the rise is the biggest since November, driven by hopes that economic recovery is gaining momentum.

The news resulted in a rise in US stocks but lost ground after a surprise fall in US consumer confidence.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers’ index on consumer sentiment dipped to 73.6 in February from 72.5 the previous month.

In the meantime, the Commerce Department said the overall gain in retail sales was held back by a 2% fall in car sales, partly due to the recall problems at Toyota.

Stripping out cars, sales grew 0.8% – exceeding the 0.1% rise outside of cars that economists had forecast.

According to Camilla Sutton, a senior strategist at Scotia Capital, the sales figures were a further hint “that the US recovery is intact and ongoing”.

“There’s been a lot of worry about how the economy will transition from government spending to consumer spending and we’re starting to see some evidence of that,” she added.

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