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Retail sales in U.S. climb by highest percentage in four months

WASHINGTON — A report released Friday by the Commerce Department said that retail sales in the U.S. rose 0.5% in July, the most in four months and demonstrating that consumers may be holding their own in a tumultuous economy.

The 0.5% increase matched the Bloomberg News median forecast followed a 0.3% gain in June that was larger than estimated. Excluding auto sales, purchases rose more than projected.

The gain in spending is “pretty relieving,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, told Bloomberg. “The upward revisions suggest that the trajectory of consumer spending heading into the third quarter wasn’t as bad as previously thought.”

Nine of 13 major categories showed a gain in sales in July, led by electronics stores, furniture retailers, auto dealers and service stations. Retailers reported July sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates. 

“July retail sales make one important point clear – it’s very hard to ignore the resilience of the American consumer,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Retailers' promotions hit the right chord with back-to-school shoppers last month, helping ease concerns that consumers were pulling back on spending, which so far has been a driving force in the economic recovery.”

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