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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Beat Forecasts, But Nonauto Sales Weak
by Tom Moeller October 12, 2007

U.S. September retail sales rise of 0.6% beat forecasts for a 0.2% uptick. The prior month's 0.3% gain was unrevised.

A 1.2% advance in motor vehicle purchases added to a 3.3% August rise.

Excluding autos, sales rose 0.4% and offset a 0.4% decline in August. A 0.3% gain had been expected.

Nonauto retail sales less gasoline rose just 0.2% (4.5% y/y) after an unrevised 0.1% decline during August. The movement followed a 0.8% July rise but no change in June.

Gasoline service station sales surged 2.0% but gas prices at the pump rose just 0.6% to an average $2.80 per gallon (9.7% y/y).

Sales of discretionary items were generally weak last month. Furniture, home furnishings & appliance stores rose just 0.1% (1.7% y/y) after a 0.4% August rise. Sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.1% (+3.7 y/y) and that gain is down from 5%+ increases this Summer. Apparel store sales fell 0.4% (+2.4% y/y), the third monthly decline in the last four

Building material sales recovered 0.8% (-0.6% y/y), perhaps reflecting the warm September weather.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) surged 1.1%% (8.7% y/y) and recovered from a 0.9% drop the prior month.

A Taylor Rule and the Greenspan Era from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond can be found here.

  September August Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.6% 0.3% 5.0% 6.2% 6.6% 6.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.4% -0.4% 3.9% 7.3% 7.6% 7.1%
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