Markets

US Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

US Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

Commerce reported that March was up 0.6% compared to February at $494.6 billion and was up 4.5% compared to March 2017. On a year-on-year basis, building material sales rose a sound 5.3 percent year-on-year, and the fall in March probably reflects a give back after post-hurricane rebuilding activity in earlier months, noted TD Economics in a research report. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent. Year-over-year core sales increased 4.5%. Retail sales in March increased 4.5 percent from a year ago.

Non-store retailers like Amazon continued to gain, rising 0.8 per cent for the month, putting them up almost 10 per cent over March of past year. Clothing stores suffered a 0.8 percent drop in sales in March, but were likewise up for the year, by 1.8 percent. Control-group sales rose at a 1 percent annualized rate over the last three months, compared with 7.6 percent in the three months through December.

Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds.

The relatively weak spending has kept estimates for economic growth in check, with analysts forecasting before Monday's report that gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annualized pace in the January-March period, down from 2.9 percent in the previous quarter. "People were so built up on the economy and tax cuts, but our view is that it's more steady than acceleration".




Grocery and beverage stores were up 5.9% year-over-year and up 0.2% from February. Bars and restaurants gained 0.4 per cent.

Sales by non-store retailers and furniture and home furnishing stores also saw notable growth, although the increases were partly offset by a steep drop in sales by sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for April, released Monday, fell one point to 69.

"This month's decline in the Empire State six-month forward index may reflect trade-related uncertainties and the associated volatility of stocks, or other factors", said Roiana Reid, an economist at Berenberg Capital Markets in NY.