U.S. retail sales increase in December
Auto sales led the gains in retail spending, with consumers shelling out the most since April for light trucks and cars, according to the Commerce Department.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail and food services rose 0.6 percent in December to $469.1 billion, far faster than the 0.2 percent rise recorded in November. The result was a tenth of a percentage point below an analyst consensus forecast.
December's result was also a considerable 4.1 percent over the same month in 2015. For the year, retail sales were up 3.3 percent over 2015.
Motor vehicles and parts dealers saw the strongest monthly gains, with sales growing 2.4 percent over November, the fastest monthly gain in eight months. Excluding autos, retail sales grew at a far calmer monthly pace of 0.2 percent.
Non-store retailers - such as online marketplaces and mail-order vendors - saw gains of 1.3 percent but department stores went in the opposite direction, falling 0.6 percent for the month.
Restaurants and bars had a slump, however, with business falling 0.8 percent, the biggest drop since January 2016.
Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index, which measures changes in price from the seller's perspective, posted gains of 0.3 percent for the month, slower than the 0.4 percent recorded in November, according to the Labor Department.
Excluding the more volatile categories of food and fuel, prices rose only 0.2 percent.
Year on year, the price index saw a gain of 1.6 percent, the largest 12-month increase recorded since September 2014. ■