Weak retail sales put a wrinkle on US outlook

May 14, 2014 - 4:52:11 am

WASHINGTON: US retail sales barely rose in April, tempering hopes of a sharp acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said yesterday retail sales edged up 0.1 percent last month, held back by declines in receipts at furniture, electronic and appliance stores, restaurants and bars and online retailers.

Retail sales, which account for a third of consumer spending, rose by a revised 1.5 percent in March. That was the largest increase since March 2010 and reflected pent-up demand after a brutally cold winter.

“You really had a spectacular March. You are now having an April hangover ... The reality of the economy is decent but not great. Some people over-extrapolated the March numbers,” said Guy Berger, an economist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut.

Economists had forecast sales advancing 0.4 percent last month after a previously reported 1.2 percent surge in March. 

Data such as employment, as well as manufacturing and services industries surveys had suggested the economy regained strength early in the second quarter. Growth was held down to a 0.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter by bad weather and a slow pace of restocking by businesses.

Reuters

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