USA retail sales fall in March as auto sales drag

New York City.                       Andrew Burton

The Commerce Department said retail sales declined 0.3 percent last month, confounding economists' expectations for a 0.1 percent gain. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a 0.1% increase.

The Commerce Department releases March retail sales data at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Wednesday.

The arrival of spring late in the month likely helped boost building material and garden equipment and supply sales, which showed the highest growth at 1.4%.

Cutting to the chase this is a duo of softer-than-expected reports and so disappointing even though there are some notable culprits such as autos in Retail Sales and services and food in PPI.

With inventories and sales both falling, the total business inventories/sales ratio in February was unchanged from the previous month at 1.41.

In a report issued by the the Census Bureau, official data showed on Wednesday that US Retail Sales dropped unexpectedly last month.

GDP growth estimates for the first quarter are now as low as a 0.2 percent annualized rate.

The 0.1 per cent drop in the producer-price index followed a 0.2 per cent decrease in February.

Excluding the decrease in auto sales, retail sales rose by 0.2 percent in March after coming in unchanged in February.

USA manufacturers have seen exports fall as weakness in major overseas markets cuts into sales.

Consumers make up almost 70-percent of economic activity, making retail sales a key indicator for the economy.

Economists expected both US retail sales and producer prices to register small gains in March.

Much of the decline was in vehicle and restaurant sales. The ratio came in at 1.37 a year ago.

Electronics stores posted a month-over-month gain of 0.1% and a year-over-year decline of 2.1% in sales.

Receipts at service stations rose 0.9 percent in March, the biggest gain since June, as gasoline prices turned higher.

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