U.S. retail sales surge in May; weekly jobless claims fall

U.S. | 6/14/2018 | Lucia Mutikani
Kezzerxx (Posted by) Level 3
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in May as consumers bought motor vehicles and a range of other goods even as they paid more for gasoline, the latest indication of an acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter.

Other data on Thursday showed a further tightening in labor market conditions, with first-time applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly falling last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls declining to a near 44-1/2-year low.

Reports - Day - Federal - Reserve - Interest

The reports came a day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for a second time this year and offered an upbeat assessment of the economy. The U.S. central bank described economic activity as “rising at a solid rate” and the labor market as continuing to “strengthen.” The Fed forecast two more rate hikes in the second half of 2018.

“In short, the Fed was right to upgrade its assessment of economic growth to ‘solid’ in yesterday’s statement,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

Commerce - Department - Sales - Percent - Month

The Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 0.8 percent last month, the biggest advance since November 2017. Data for April was revised up to show sales rising 0.4 percent instead of the previously reported 0.2 percent gain.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales rising 0.4 percent in May. Retail sales in May increased 5.9 percent from a year ago.

Automobiles - Gasoline - Building - Materials - Food

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.5 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase in April. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. They were previously reported to have risen 0.5 percent in April.

The strong retail sales report added to data ranging from the labor market to manufacturing and trade in suggesting the economy was regaining momentum in the...
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