U.S. Retail Sales Surge in April

CBJ — Retail sales in the United States posted their strongest increase in more than a year last month moving up 1.3%.  A surge in automobile sales helped set the pace, suggesting the American economy is regaining some of its momentum.

The jump in sales reported by the U.S. Commerce Department is a boost for the sector that has been hit by sluggish demand. It comes days after major retailers, including Macy’s and Nordstrom, reported sales tumbled in the first quarter and lowered their full-year profit forecasts.

Signs of an acceleration in consumer spending keep an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve next month on the table. Consumer spending prospects got a boost from a separate report showing sentiment among households jumped to an 11-month high in early May.

Data on retail sales, construction spending and factory orders have already implied that the advance GDP growth estimate could be raised 0.9%.

The Commerce Department report showed retail sales in April rose across all categories, with the exception of building materials and garden equipment. Auto sales advanced 3.2%, the largest increase since March 2015, after slumping by the same 3.2% in March.

Online retail sales moved forward 2.1%, the biggest gain since June 2014.

Inflation continues to be restrained by the lingering effects of the U.S. dollar’s surge and oil price plunge. The greenback gained 20% against the currencies of the United States’ trading partners between June 2014 and December 2015.