Shoppers Perk Up, Lifting Retail Sales By A Surprise 0.3%

Retail sales climbed 0.3% vs. January, the most in three months, the Commerce Department said. Wall Street had expected a 0.2% drop. Sales ex autos rose 0.8%, far above the expected 0.1%.

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“The consumer absolutely has a pulse and these numbers in February were just terrific,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.

Stocks rose some on the retail data, then dipped on a weak consumer sentiment report. But they never did much. The Dow rose 0.1% while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were fractionally lower.

The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer index of consumer confidence came in lower than expected in March, raising concerns about the outlook for retail sales and the overall economy.

Analysts said rising stock prices, stabilization in home values, government stimulus and slowing job losses have helped to support consumer outlays, which account for 70% of economic activity.

February same-store sales rose 4.1% vs. [Read the full article]

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