Retail

US retail sales soared 1.6% in March

Key Points
  • U.S. retail sales surged in March at the fastest pace since late 2017.
  • Spending on autos, gasoline, furniture, and clothing jumped.
  • Sales increased 1.6% from February, the strongest increase since September 2017, the Commerce Department said.
People carrying shopping bags walk along Fifth Avenue in New York.
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U.S. retail sales surged in March at the fastest pace since late 2017, as spending on autos, gasoline, furniture, and clothing jumped.

The Commerce Department said that sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.6% from February, the strongest increase since September 2017.

The gains mark a sharp rebound from a lackluster period of sales dating back to December. It's a sign that the healthy job market has likely made consumers more eager to spend in ways that boost overall economic growth.

Sales at gas stations climbed 3.5% in March, while spending at auto dealers jumped 3.1%. Clothiers reported a 2% gain and furniture stores enjoyed a 1.7% bump.

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales increased by a still solid 0.9%.

During the past year, retail spending has grown 3.6%.

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Economy

US weekly jobless claims lowest since 1969; unemployment rolls shrink

Key Points
  • The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to more than a 49-1/2-year low last week.
  • The data pointed to sustained strength in the economy.
  • Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to 192,000 for the week ended April 13, the lowest level since September 1969, the Labor Department said.