US retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

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A 0.2% monthly decline for March was revised up to show a 0.1% increase.

The Federal Reserve tries to manage the economy so that annual increases in inflation are around 2 percent.

Hiring has been steady and the unemployment rate fell to a ten-year low of 4.4 percent in April.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased 0.4 percent in April from March.

Retail trade sales were up 0.4% from March 2017, and up 4.5% from previous year.

Sales by non-store retailers, electronics and appliance stores, and building materials and supplies dealers saw significant growth. Core prices have risen 1.9 percent.

USA retail sales in April rebounded from two sluggish months - but clothing was one of just a few categories not to see any pickup in spending as shoppers continued to stay away from malls and online competition intensified.

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Auto sales bounced back for the month, up 0.7 percent, though they weren't a major component of the increase in overall sales. Gauges of consumer and business confidence remain high following last year's presidential election; the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment was up 9% in April compared with a year earlier. "Retailers are multi-tasking as they attempt to get the right mix among products, inventory, employment, promotions and use of technology".

Friday's report excluded consumer spending on most services, including medical care and housing. Last month's gain in retail sales was solid but not particularly strong.

Shares in JC Penney sank 10% after it became the latest department store chain to report disappointing results.

And it offered up a caveat in that the "forecast is a baseline and does not take into account new fiscal measures pending in Washington". But the optimism is quelled to a degree, he noted, in that while consumers appear to have the resources to spend more than in the past, there is likely to be some hesitancy until there is more clarity in regards to policy changes regarding taxes, trade, and other issues.

IHS Markit Senior Research Director Sara Johnson was relatively optimistic about April's retail sales performance.

Core retail sales - excluding automobiles and parts grew 0.3%. Fundamentally, it remains an open question whether the improvements in April will prove to be a bellwether of a rebound in consumer spending.

However, the weakness at brick-and-mortar retailers is not indicative of a drop in consumer spending.

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