U.S. Retail Sales Rise 0.6% in June

Automobile and parts sales rose 2.3%

For the second consecutive month, U.S. retail sales rose by 0.6%, Commerce Department data showed on July 14.

The Commerce Department left unchanged May's 0.5% increase in retail sales from April.

Excluding gasoline and motor vehicle and parts sales, retail sales fell for the fourth consecutive month, by 0.2%, after a 0.1% decline in May.

Gasoline sales led the rise in overall retail sales, surging 5% from May as prices at the pump increase.

Automobile and parts sales rose 2.3% in June, after a 0.5% gain in May.

On an annual basis, retail sales were 9% below the June 2008 level.

Amid a severe recession, retail sales have increased in only four of the past 12 months as wary consumers snap their wallets shut in the face of rising unemployment and falling home values.

"Retail sales in June took on a positive tone for the second consecutive month in aggregate, although the continued weakness in core sales dampened the positive message that the data convey," said Scott Hoyt of Moody's Economy.com. "The bottom line, however, remains that sales are trending about flat. This is a dramatic improvement from the steady large declines of the second half of last year and encouraging in the face ongoing declines in employment and aggregate wage income."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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