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US retail sales rise as wholesale inflation slows in December

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US retail sales rebounded in the final month of 2016 while wholesale inflation slowed in the world's largest economy, according to official figures released Friday.

[WASHINGTON] US retail sales rebounded in the final month of 2016 while wholesale inflation slowed in the world's largest economy, according to official figures released Friday.

Auto sales led the gains in retail spending, with consumers shelling out the most since April for light trucks and cars, according to the Commerce Department.

The figures also pointed to a continuation of consumer trends in shopping, with online businesses seeing rising sales, while department stores moved fewer goods off the shelves.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail and food services rose 0.6 per cent in December to US$469.1 billion, far faster than the 0.2 per cent rise recorded in November. The result was a tenth of a percentage point below an analyst consensus forecast.

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December's result was also a considerable 4.1 per cent over the same month in 2015. For the year, retail sales were up 3.3 per cent over 2015.

Motor vehicles and parts dealers saw the strongest monthly gains, with sales growing 2.4 per cent over November, the fastest monthly gain in eight months. Excluding autos, retail sales grew at a far calmer monthly pace of 0.2 per cent.

Non-store retailers - such as online marketplaces and mail-order vendors - saw gains of 1.3 per cent but department stores went in the opposite direction, falling 0.6 per cent for the month.

Restaurants and bars had a slump, however, with business falling 0.8 per cent, the biggest drop since January 2016.

Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index, which measures changes in price from the seller's perspective, posted gains of 0.3 per cent for the month, slower than the 0.4 per cent recorded in November, according to the Labor Department.

Excluding the more volatile categories of food and fuel, prices rose only 0.2 per cent.

Year on year, the price index saw a gain of 1.6 per cent, the largest 12-month increase recorded since September 2014.

AFP

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