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Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

17 April 2018
Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

Consumers shook off stormy weather last month to deliver retail sales growth.

Mark Frissora, chief executive at Caesars Entertainment Corp., told analysts on the phone that the "strong labor market, buoyant consumer confidence and the recent tax cuts offer a favorable outlook for spending patterns".

Retail sales in America grew by 0.6% in March after three straight months of declines.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales rising 0.4 per cent in March.

The average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages edged up to 4.42 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Retail sales are closely watched by economists because they provide an early read on consumer spending, the principal driver of the US economy.

Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds. Prices for U.S. Treasuries were marginally lower while U.S. stock index futures rose slightly.

Discussions into reopening trade of pork between the U.S. and Argentina began previous year as the import of USA pork into Argentina had been prohibited since 1992 - a de facto ban initiated by Argentina due to worries over parasite contamination of outdoor-reared pigs. The rise was mainly driven by a 2 percent growth in motor vehicle & parts dealers; however gains were comparatively broad based throughout categories.

O'Sullivan estimates consumer spending grew at a 1 percent annual pace in the first quarter. The economy expanded at a 2.9 percent pace in the October-December quarter. Compared with March 2017, the total is 4.7 percent higher. Receipts at service stations fell 0.3 percent, reflecting cheaper gasoline.

Online and other non-store sales were up 7.6% year-over-year and up 0.8% over February seasonally adjusted. Sales also improved stores that sell furniture, electronics, restaurants, grocery stores, and personal care. Sales at restaurants and bars gained 0.4 percent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies stores were off 0.6 percent for the month, though they were up 5.3 percent for the year.

Sporting goods stores were down 0.9% year-over-year and down 1.8% from February seasonally adjusted.