Markets

Retail sales see varying gains in March, says Commerce and NRF data

Retail sales see varying gains in March, says Commerce and NRF data

Control-group sales rose at a 1 percent annualized rate over the last three months, compared with 7.6 percent in the three months through December. Clothing stores suffered a 0.8 percent drop in sales in March, but were likewise up for the year, by 1.8 percent. Without vehicle sales, the total retail sales gain for the month was 0.2 percent. Easter holiday purchases also likely lifted spending.

Sales at home furnishing stores rose 0.7 per cent, and were up 0.5 per cent at electronics stores. Total retail sales in the first quarter of 2018 were up as well, by 4.1 percent compared with the same quarter in 2017.

"It's nice to see the bounce-back here - to me it's just on trend", Societe Generale senior USA economist Omair Sharif said. Compared with a year ago, however, auto sales didn't make that much difference: total retail sales were 4.5 percent higher when vehicle sales are factored out.

Grocery and beverage stores were up 5.9% year-over-year and up 0.2% from February. They fell at home and garden stores, clothing shops and sporting goods stores.

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Referred to as "market cap", it is determined by doubling a company's shares outstanding by the current market price of one share. Furthermore, the percentage of stocks above their 50-day moving average helps determine the overall health of the market.

Retail sales are closely watched by economists because they provide an early read on consumer spending, the principal driver of the USA economy.

The relatively weak spending has kept estimates for economic growth in check, with analysts forecasting before Monday's report that gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annualized pace in the January-March period, down from 2.9 percent in the previous quarter. The slowdown follows a 4 percent jump in consumer spending in the final three months of last year, the strongest gain in three years. The rise was mainly driven by a 2 percent growth in motor vehicle & parts dealers; however gains were comparatively broad based throughout categories.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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