Market Insider

Retail sales seen strong while traders stay on taper alert

Shoppers at a Toys R Us store in Arapahoe County, Colorado.
Karl Gehring | The Denver Post | Getty Images

November retail sales are likely to show their best gain since February, on the back of superstrong auto sales.

The retail number is important because it is one of the last pieces of major economic data ahead of next week's Fed meeting. That meeting is the markets' key focus as expectations for the Fed to slow its bond-buying program have been rising since Friday's stronger-than-expected jobs report.

Economists expect retail sales to be up 0.6 percent for November, besting October's 0.4 percent gain. The number is released at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday, the same time that import prices and weekly jobless claims are reported. Business inventories are at 10 a.m.