Falling 0.3 pct in January, a broad decline in retail sales
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WASHINGTON — Americans pulled back on buying cars, furniture and other goods in January, pushing retail sales down by 0.3
The January decline, following no change in December, was the largest setback since a 0.5
The slowdown comes after a three-month stretch of sizzling consumer activity, from September through November, which had fueled the most robust holiday sales in a decade.
Economists were not too concerned, saying they continue to expect solid gains in coming months, as long as the recent stock market turmoil does not undermine consumer confidence.
"Some of the weakness in January retail sales could be linked to the unusually high number of reported flu cases last month but, on balance, it was probably inevitable that sales would start to slow after their recent strength," said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist for Capital Economics.
"With jobs growth still strong, consumer confidence at an unusually high level and the recent tax cuts providing a one-off boost to disposable incomes this month, the near-term prospects for consumer spending remain fairly bright," Hunter said.
Economists are forecasting that the overall economy will expand at a solid 3
Auto sales fell 1.3
But the weakness was not confined to the auto sector. Excluding autos, retail sales would have been flat in January and a number of key sectors from furniture to building supplies suffered declines.
Department store sales rose a solid 0.8
The booming internet shopping sector was flat in January, but is still 10.2
Sales at gasoline service stations rose 1.6
The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a solid 2.6
President Donald Trump insists that his economic program, which includes a $1.5 trillion tax cut, deregulation and increased infrastructure spending, will boost economic growth to 3
That was double the estimate for deficits that Trump made in his first budget last year.