Markets & Finance

Retail Sales Rise

The Commerce Dept. reported that November retail sales rose 0.4%, in line with expectations. Auto sales fell 0.1%, running against the unit sales numbers, which probably reflects weak used car sales. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.5%, a strong performance after the 0.8% October rise.

Overall, consumers are out in force, and doing their best to support the economy. Weak clothing (-1.3%) and department store (-1.4%) sales were offset by strong furniture (2.3%), electronics (0.9%), and building materials (1.2%) sales. Food sales jumped 0.9%; perhaps the late Thanksgiving caused more gluttony than usual.

Nonstore retailers were up 1.7% (catalogs and internet), suggesting early Christmas shopping from home. From Standard & Poor's MarketScope

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