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US Retail Sales Rebound in February

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US Retail Sales Rebound in February

US retail sales rebounded in February, a sign the economy is regaining momentum after inclement weather weighed on activity in recent months.

Retail revenues increased 0.3 percent percent in January, after a revised 0.6 percent drop the previous month, the Commerce Department reported today. A consensus of economists in a Reuters survey forecast a gain of 0.2 percent.

The so-called core measure, which excludes volatile elements such as automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, also rose 0.3 percent in February following a revised 0.6 percent drop the previous month.

Sales increased in most categories, led by a 2.5 percent rise in sporting goods stores. Receipts rose 1.2 percent in health and personal care stores, as well as in non-store retailers, official data showed. Sales fell at miscellaneous retailers, food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores.

Compared to February 2013, retail revenues were up 1.5 percent. Non-store retailers were up 6.3 percent annually and health and personal care stores were up 5.5 percent over the same period. Food and beverage sales increased 2.4 percent annually, the Commerce Department said.

The February rebound suggests the US economy may be normalizing after an unusually cold winter disrupted activity in December and January. Inclement weather is believed to have disrupted home sales, industrial output and even hiring. In the retail sector, sales are expected to rebound in the spring as warmer weather and improving finances boost demand.

February also witnessed a sharp rebound in hiring. At 175,000, nonfarm payrolls increased at the fastest rate since November, the Labor Department said last week.

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