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US retail sales fall 1% to $691B in March, more than estimates

14.04.23 20:00

US retail sales fell 1% to $691.7 billion in March, according to advance figures released Friday by the Commerce Department.

While retail sales fell more than market estimates of a 0.4% decline, they stood at the revised figure of $698.6 billion for a monthly decrease of 0.2% in February.

On an annual basis, retail sales were up 2.9% in March, compared to the same month of 2023.

The annual gain, however, is a sharp slowdown from the 5.4% year-on-year increase in February, which was revised up to a 5.9% gain.

The monthly decline and annual slowdown figures indicate that consumer demand is still weak in the world's largest economy after aggressive monetary tightening to fight inflation by the Federal Reserve.

Annual consumer inflation in the US came in at 5% in March, significantly easing from 6% in February, according to official figures released Wednesday.

Last year, the Fed raised interest rates by a total of 425 points in seven rate hikes to fight record inflation, which jumped to a 40-year high in mid-2022. It later made a 25 basis points rate hike on Feb. 1, followed by another 25 basis points hike on March 22 that carried its benchmark funds rate to a range of 4.75% to 5%.
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