US retail sales rise over car purchases
New York, June 14, 2013
US retail sales rose more than expected in May and first-time applications for jobless benefits fell last week, showing signs of resilience in the economy despite belt-tightening in Washington.
"There is an emerging positive story for consumers and the potential for a virtuous cycle to take hold," said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Commerce Department said yesterday retail sales increased 0.6 per cent after edging up 0.1 per cent in April.
Sales had been expected to rise 0.4 per cent.
Retail sales, which account for about 30 per cent of consumer spending, were boosted by a surge in motor vehicle purchases as well as gains in home building materials.
So-called core sales, which strip out automobiles, gasoline and building materials and correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, increased 0.3 per cent after rising 0.2 per cent in April. That offered hope consumer spending probably would not slow too much in the second quarter, after spending fell in April for the first time in a year.
It was also an indication households were adjusting well to higher taxes and deep government spending cuts, as indicated by a surge in consumer confidence last month, economists said.
"Pressure is still largely on the consumer to carry most of the water to keep the economy moving forward," said Baird.
Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of US economic activity, grew at its fastest pace in two years in the first quarter, boosted in part by demand for utilities.
It is expected to slow this quarter and hold economic growth to below a 2 per cent annual pace. The economy grew at a 2.4 per cent rate in the first three months of the year.
In a separate report, the Labour Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 334,000 last week.
The report suggested that the recent pace of steady of job gains continued in early June. While the data indicated a pick-up in economic momentum after activity slowed early in the second quarter, it is unlikely the Federal Reserve will pull back on monetary stimulus anytime soon as manufacturing is struggling.-Reuters