Retail Sales Surprise on the Upside

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly halted a record six-month slide in January, reflecting higher gasoline prices and more spending on items such as clothing and food. The 1 percent increase followed a revised 3 percent drop the prior month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Purchases excluding automobiles gained 0.9 percent. Consumer spending, about 70 percent of the economy, is likely to resume shrinking as the year progresses, according to a separate monthly Bloomberg News survey, capping the longest slide on record. Lawmakers are aiming to shore up the economy with a $789 billion stimulus package that’s designed to create 3.5 million new jobs.

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