U.S. retail sales jumped by the most since September 2017 as gains in motor vehicles and gasoline stations boosted sales, signaling consumers are giving the economy greater support.
The value of overall sales in March rose 1.6 percent after an unrevised 0.2 percent decrease the prior month, according to Commerce Department figures released Thursday. That exceeded all forecasts in Bloomberg’s survey calling for a 1 percent gain. A separate report Thursday from the Labor Department showed filings for unemployment benefits fell last week to a fresh a 49-year low.
With first-quarter gross domestic product figures due April 26, the surprisingly strong retail report may spur economists to further increase projections. Analysts raised economic growth forecasts for the period Wednesday after a report showing the trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February.
The stronger data signal consumers may continue to drive the expansion amid solid wage gains, low unemployment, and policy makers indicating interest rates will remain on hold this year. The rebound, after a December plunge, may help offset an inventory overhang that’s poised to weigh on growth later this year.
Automobile dealer sales rose 3.1 percent, the most in 18 months, after a drop the prior month. Industry data from Ward's Automotive Group previously showed unit sales rebounded in March.
Source : Bloomberg