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U.S. retail sales rise for 7th month

05-16-2010 14:52 BJT

BEIJING, May 15 -- Retail sales in the United States rose in April for the seventh straight month, offering hope that consumer spending will keep supporting the US economy in the months ahead.

The US Commerce Department said yesterday that retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, better than the 0.2 percent increase economists had expected. The gain was less than the 2.1 percent growth in March. But that surge was boosted by an early Easter holiday and auto incentives.

Excluding autos, retail sales edged up 0.4 percent in April, matching expectations.

Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Consumer spending rose in the first three months of this year at the fastest pace in three years and economists are hoping that better news on employment will bolster spending in coming months.

The trend in sales gains is an encouraging sign that the economic recovery will continue, but analysts cautioned the rebound will not be as strong as previous periods because of a number of adverse factors weighing on households.

"The decent gains in payroll employment in recent months have improved the outlook for spending," said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics. But he said he was still looking for a sub-par recovery because of the "continued weak fundamentals of heavy indebtedness, tight credit and high unemployment."

Another report yesterday from the Federal Reserve showed that industrial production rose 0.8 percent in April, better than the 0.6 percent gain economists had expected.

The increase provided further evidence that manufacturing is playing a leading role in supporting the economic recovery.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: Shanghai Daily

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