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U.S. retail sales get big lift in August from auto purchases, but most stores post declines – MarketWatch, Marketwatch.com

U.S. retail sales get big lift in August from auto purchases, but most stores post declines – MarketWatch, Marketwatch.com


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                         
Retail sales got a big boost in August from auto purchases, but it was slow going for most retailers.

The numbers:US retail sales got a big boost in August from purchases of new autos and building supplies, but most other stores reported weak or declining receipts in a sign that consumers trimmed spending toward the end of summer.

Retail sales rose 0.4% last month, the government said Friday, but sales were flat excluding new cars and trucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                         

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.1% increase in sales.

Read:For the first time in 11 Years, 80% of Americans in their prime are working

What happened:Sales jumped 1.8% at auto dealers to mark the biggest gain in five months.

The relatively robust level of car sales suggest consumers are still confident in the economy. Purchases of big-ticket items usually wane when the economy slows or Americans become worried about their jobs.

Sales also rose 1.6% at Internet retailers and 1.4% at home and garden centers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Internet stores evidently suffered little letdown after a burst of sales in July when Amazon held its annual Prime Day and rivals tried to keep pace with their own deals.

Sales at gas stations fell almost 1% in August as the summer driving season came to a close, but that’s a good thing for consumers. The less they have to spend on gas the more they can save or spend on other goods and services.

Retail spending more broadly was soft last month, however . Restaurants, department stores and clothing retailers also posted sales declines of around 1%. And sales dipped at groceries and home-furnishing stores.

Retail sales in both July and May, meanwhile, were a bit stronger than initially reported. ********

Read:Inflation’s slow burn coming to an end? CPI shows prices on the rise

Big picture:The economy has slowed in 2019 partly because of the trade war with China and its depressing effects on the rest of the world. Exporters such as farmers and large manufacturers have been especially hard hit, leading to weaker business investment and production at home.

Consumers are the ones keeping the good times going, buoyed by rising incomes and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Spending soared in the spring and it was fairly strong overall in the first two months of the third quarter.

The economy is still growing around 2% and there’s little sign of imminent recession – assuming the trade war doesn’t get any worse.

Read:US consumers are far from spent and that’s a lifesaver for a wobbly economy

Market reaction:The Dow Jones Industrial Average                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DJIA, 0. 20%                                                                                                                                                           and S&P 500                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SPX, 0. 06%                                                                                                                                                           were set to open higher in Friday trades. Stocks have been rising in anticipation of the Fed cutting interest rates. Talk of a potential truce of sorts in the US-China trade war has also helped.

The 10 – year Treasury yield                                                                                                                                                                                                                      TMUBMUSD (Y,) 2. 95%                                                                                                                                                           rose to 1.8%, extending a recent upturn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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