Retail sales in the United States continue growing, according to new figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department, but not as much as many were hoping.

The department reports sales increased 0.4% in June from the month before, led by a 1.8% hike in new auto sales. Retail sales in May increased 0.5%

While the latest number is positive, the increase is half the amount economists were expecting, according to a consensus estimate by Reuters. One likely reason for the less than anticipated performance is that sales of building materials fell in June by the most in a year.

When sales of autos, gasoline and building materials are factored out of the total retail sales picture for June, the increase was only 0.1% in June and 0.2% in May. This likely indicates some easing of consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 70% of economic activity, in the second quarter of the year.

The economic report follows one late last week showing U.S. consumer confidence fell slightly in June. Another report showed prices at the wholesale level increased 0.8% in June following a 0.5% increase in May, due mainly to a hike in fuel prices. 

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