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U.S. Retail Sales Strong For November: 1% Gain

Wednesday, 13 Dec 2006 | 9:29 AM ET

U.S. retail sales gained a much more than expected, 1.0% in November. Excluding auto and gasoline sales they advanced at the strongest pace since January, according to government data that showed a generally upbeat trend for consumer spending.

On this morning’s "Squawk Box", CNBC’s Steve Liesman and Richard Hastings Senior Retail Analyst with Bernard Sands added perspective on this surprisingly strong number.

It’s a big number – Liesman said everything is up big or unchanged (except for furniture.) Liesman noted non-store retailers were up 1.3% (very telling). Liesman said, "These are good numbers and it’s hard to see the housing slowdown in consumer spending numbers."

Richard Hastings has been bearish on the economy. He said he’s concerned by the debt formation rates – they’ve slowed by not stopped.

Liesman: “Richard, If there’s a Grinch out there – it’s you.”
Hastings: Not at all – I see the economy growing, but at a slower rate than last year. The housing market is a big problem – but it hasn’t been bad enough fast enough to derail the consumer.

The data that intrigued Hastings was in home improvement: lawn and garden. That number was up 1.8% - which is extremely strong – Hastings thought weather might have been a factor.

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