Retail Sales Exceed Economists' Expectations

By John S. McClenahen U.S. Retail sales totaled $299.5 billion in June, an increase of 1.1% from May, reports the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of the Census. The percentage increase was nearly double the 0.6% that most economists expected. In contrast, retail sales fell a revised 1.1% in May, the Census Bureau says. "It now looks like consumer spending grew a tepid 2% in the second quarter," notes Gerald D. Cohen, a senior economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. "But June's bounce back suggests spending is accelerating into the third quarter," he states. Indeed, Merrill Lynch anticipates consumer spending growing at about a 3.5% rate during this calendar quarter.

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