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US retail sales, wholesale inflation pick up in November

[WASHINGTON] US retail sales picked up in November as Americans opened their wallets as the holiday shopping season kicked into gear, while wholesale inflation edged higher, official data showed Friday.

Retail sales rose 0.2 per cent in November, a bit less than expected but double the increase in October, the Commerce Department reported.

The gain was muted by falling gasoline prices because the data is not adjusted for price changes. Prices at the pump fell 0.8 per cent in November after a one per cent drop in October.

A decline in automobile sales of 0.4 per cent was a drag. Stripping out auto sales, retail sales were up 0.4 per cent in November.

Retail sales in most categories showed gains as consumer spending, the main driver of the economy, maintains solid growth. The data were expected to reassure the Federal Reserve as it contemplates raising interest rates next week for the first time in almost nine years.

The retail numbers "support our view that US consumer spending trends remain healthy. We expect further employment and household income gains to continue to support private consumption growth," said Barclays analyst Jesse Hurwitz.

Wholesale prices meanwhile edged higher in November after three straight months of declines.

The Labour Department reported its producer price index rose 0.3 per cent in November, following a 0.4 per cent decline in October.

Compared with a year ago, PPI was down 1.1 per cent, the 10th consecutive month of year-on-year decline.

AFP