U.S. retail sales, wholesale inflation data point to slow growth

U.S. retail sales, wholesale inflation data point to slow growth
# 14 September 2013 03:12 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. consumer confidence ebbed early this month and retail sales rose just slightly in August despite strong demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items, the latest indications economic growth slowed in the third quarter, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The lack of momentum in the economy was underscored by other data on Friday showing an energy-led increase in wholesale prices last month, but subdued underlying inflation pressures.

The signs of soft domestic demand are unlikely to deter the Federal Reserve from initiating cuts to its bond-buying program as early as next week, however.

"Demand is probably good enough to spur the Fed to taper asset purchases by a wee amount next week," said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment fell to 76.8 in September, the lowest since April. Confidence fell amid concerns over high interest rates.

Retail sales increased 0.2 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles, furniture and electronics and appliances, the Commerce Department said in a separate report.

But auto sales strength appears to be drawing spending power away from other areas as purchases of clothing, building materials and sporting goods fell.

Retail sales, which account for about 30 percent of consumer spending, were still up for a fifth consecutive month. They had gained 0.4 percent in July and economists polled by Reuters had expected them to rise 0.4 percent last month.

Stripping out automobiles, gasoline and building materials, so-called core sales were up 0.2 percent after rising 0.5 percent in July. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Though core sales slowed a bit from July, they matched the second quarter's 0.2 percent average monthly gain.

The dollar fell against the euro and the yen after the retail sales report. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose.

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