According to data released by the Commerce Department U.S. retail sales fell in February for a third straight month unexpectedly
16 March, 2018, 02:37
Here's a look at how three retail related ETFs are tracking year-to-date, according to Yahoo Finance. However, internet retailers and restaurants were up. The Commerce Department said retail sales slipped 0.1 percent last month instead of falling 0.3 percent as previously expected.
For the month, some retail categories saw better sales than others. Gasoline station sales are up 7.9% since February 2017. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales edged up 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in January. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Overall consumer spending reflects more than two-thirds of economic demand in the U.S. The dollar initially firmed against a basket of currencies before giving up gains to trade little changed. USA stock index futures slightly extended gains. "With consumer confidence and employment growing, economic fundamentals are favorable for spending to expand in the coming months". GDP growth estimates for the January-March quarter are about a 2% annualised rate. For comparison, the USA economy grew by 2.5% in the fourth quarter of past year, with the government expected to release its third GDP estimate later this month. The economy created 313,000 jobs in February. He also noted that federal income tax filing season for 2017 had a relatively late start, so people may be spending refunds later in the year.
Meantime, prices at the wholesale level increased 0.2% in February from the month before, according to a separate Labor Department report, as analysts were expecting a 0.1% rise, following a 0.4% hike in January.
There were also declines in sales at furniture stores, health and personal care stores and electronics and appliance stores.
But there were some pockets of strength. Gas sales were down 1.2 percent for the month, but up 7.9 percent for the year, since gas prices are generally higher now than a year ago.
The revenue in clothing stores increased by 0.4%, and online retailers increased by 1%.
Excluding food and energy costs, the core PPI also rose 0.2% in February and increased 2.5% over the past 12 months. The increase in underlying wholesale prices supports views that consumer inflation will pick up this year.
Economists believe that a tightening labour market, weak dollar and fiscal stimulus from the tax cuts and increased government spending will lift inflation towards the Fed's 2% target in 2018.
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