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Retail sales rise more than expected

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Retail sales rose more than expected in November, boosting hopes that the all-important consumer sector will support the fragile recovery.

The government's report came as a surprise because the nation's retailers have been reporting generally lackluster results for the start of the holiday shopping season. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of overall economic activity.

But retail sales rose 1.3 percent last month, after a 1.1-percent October gain, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the biggest advance since sales jumped 2.4 percent in August, and more than double the 0.6-percent increase economists had expected.

Excluding autos, retail sales rose 1.2 percent, triple the 0.4-percent advance economists expected.

A 6-percent surge in sales at service stations, partly reflecting higher gasoline prices, led the overall gain. But even excluding that jump, retail sales posted a respectable 0.8-percent rise in November.

Economists' general view has been that double-digit unemployment levels would keep consumers cautious in their spending and act as a drag on the economy as it struggles to emerge from the worst recession since the 1930s.

The November retail sales report showed that auto sales rose 1.6 percent, a solid performance after a 7.1-percent surge in October.

Sales at department stores increased 0.7 percent, and the broader category that includes big retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. posted a 0.8-percent increase.

Sales also jumped 2.8 percent at electronics and appliance stores, and 1.5 percent at hardware stores.

Sales did fall 0.7 percent at furniture stores, something of a surprise since analysts had expected the recent rebound in home sales to bolster demand for furniture.

After posting two straight gains following more than a year of declines, big chain retail stores earlier this month reported a dip in November sales. Those figures don't include Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, which no longer reports monthly sales.

But a diverse group of stores, including Macy's Inc., Saks Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Target, did post sharper-than-expected sales declines in November.

The overall economy rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the July-September quarter, the first increase after a record four straight declines. Analysts had forecast growth to sag a bit in the current quarter and the first half of 2010 because they expected consumer spending would weaken under the weight of 10 percent unemployment.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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