US retails sales flat
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 3:32 pm
WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers spent less on autos, clothing and furniture to leave retail sales unchanged in August.
The lack of growth suggests households became more cautious during wild stock market fluctuations and increased fears about the economy.
The Commerce Department said last week retail sales were slightly weaker in July than first thought. They rose just 0.3 percent, down from the initial reading of 0.5 percent.
Auto sales fell 0.3 percent in August. Sales at clothing stores declined 0.7 percent. Gasoline sales rose, partly because prices increased.
Analysts said Hurricane Irene likely disrupted sales in late August along most of the East Coast.
Investors seemed to look past the report. Stocks rose in early morning trading, tracking European markets higher ahead of a meeting on Greece’s debt troubles.
Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
The overall economy expanded at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent in the first six months of this year, the slowest growth since the recession ended two years ago. Employers added no net jobs in August, and the unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent.