Retail sales soar to 5 month high

This is good news in advance of the Easter shopping season. Reuters: Retail sales posted their largest gain in five months in February as Americans stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and other goods even as they paid more for gasoline. Total retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, after a 0.6 percent rise in January. The increase was broadly in line with expectations. Details of the report were fairly upbeat and its tenor was also boosted by upward revisions to the prior months' data, suggesting recent solid gains in employment were helping to cushion consumers against steep rises in gasoline prices. "The big thing for the consumer is that the labor market has improved and there's income growth. Things look better than six months ago," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut. "There is a risk if gasoline prices continue to rise. That will bite into household budgets." Stock index...(Read Full Post)