U.S. Retail Sales Rise, Jobless Claims Fall

By Agence France-Presse U.S. retail sales rose a modest 0.7% in July, the U.S. Commerce Department said Aug. 12, a weaker performance than had been predicted by economists. Private economists had generally predicted a gain of about 1.1%. Stripping out motor vehicles, retail sales edged up 0.2% in July, a much smaller gain than had been expected. In June, overall retail sales declined 0.5%, a little better than the first estimate of a 1.1% slump. Meanwhile, in other economic reports, the queue of Americans lodging new applications for jobless benefits shrank a little last week. The number of new claimants fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 333,000 in the week ended Aug. 7, after a drop of 9,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said. A four-week average of new claims, which smoothes out weekly distortions, dropped 4,250 to 339,250. In raw, unadjusted figures, the number of new claims rose 8,312 to 290,226. There were 348,207 claims in the comparable period last year. The pool of existing claimants -- those making claims for at least two weeks -- fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.9 million in the week ended July 31, the latest date for which those numbers were available. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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