U.S. retail sales rose in February by the greatest level since September. The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday reported a 1.1% increase from the month before with the January figure being upwardly revised to a 0.2% gain. February activity was 4.6% higher than the same time a year ago.

The hike was more than twice what a consensus forecast of economists polled by Reuters were expecting.

Core sales, which takes away auto, fuel and building materials transactions and more closely mirror those of consumer spending, showed retail sales rose 0.4% in February from the month before, following a 0.3% gain in January from December.

Analysts feel this rise in core sales the first two months of the year is increasing evidence that the economy is doing better, especially considering the nation’s gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of only 0.1% in the final quarter of last year. There have been concerns that retail sales might suffer since the beginning of the year, following a 2% payroll tax cut expiring at the end of last year.

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