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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Spending Firm
by Tom Moeller October 15, 2004

US retail sales jumped 1.5% last month following a little revised 0.2% decline in August. The gain far outpaced Consensus expectations for a 0.6% rise.

Higher sales of motor vehicles led the surge. A 4.2% jump in sales at motor vehicle & parts dealers reflected the 5.5% m/m increase in unit sales of light vehicles

Excluding motor vehicles sales rose 0.6% after an unrevised 0.2% gain in August. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% increase.

Discretionary spending rebounded from a lackluster performance in August. Clothing & accessory store sales rose 0.8% (4.0% y/y) following a 0.7% August drop that was half the decline initially reported.Sales at general merchandise stores surged 1.1% (+5.4% y/y) but sales of furniture/home furnishings & electronics/appliances were unchanged (3.9% y/y) after a 1.1% decline in August that was deeper than the 0.4% decline initially reported.

Building materials, garden equipment & supply dealers' sales surged 1.4% (14.4% y/y).

Sales at gasoline service stations ticked up 0.1% (15.1% y/y) after two months of 0.1% decline. Retail gasoline prices fell in each of those months but in October they are up to $1.99/gallon versus an average $1.87 in September.

Today's remarks on oil by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan can be found here.

  Sept Aug Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales & Food Services 1.5% -0.2% 7.7% 5.4% 2.5% 3.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.6% 0.2% 7.8% 5.2% 3.2% 3.1%
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