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U.S. retail sales rebound modestly

Staff Writer |
U.S. retail sales rose modestly in January after a December drop that was even larger than originally estimated.

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Retail sales rose 0.2 percent as increased purchases of building materials and more discretionary spending offset the biggest decline in motor vehicle sales in five years.

Data for December was revised to show sales tumbling 1.6 percent instead of decreasing 1.2 percent as previously reported.

The January retail sales report was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25. February's retail sales report, which was scheduled for publication on Thursday, will be released on April 1.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rebounded 1.1 percent in January after a downwardly revised 2.3 percent plunge in December, the largest drop since 2000.

These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

They were previously reported to have decreased 1.7 percent in December. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

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