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Retail Sales Come In Line, Ex-Autos/Gas Slight Miss

In what may come as a surprise to some, advance retail sales for January printed on top of expectations of a +0.1% increase in sequential sales, although the forecast range was very wide, from -0.7% to +0.6% as many analysts were concerned what the impact of the payroll tax expiration would be on sales. This is a moderation of the January growth when retail sales rose 0.5%.  And while the headline number was goldilocks, the core reading excluding autos and gas came at 0.2% or slightly below expectations of a 0.4% print. What was even more curious is that the commerce department said department store sales rose the most since February 2012. Retail sales “relatively flat” as end of tax holiday likely had effect, says Bloomberg Government economist Nela Richardson. In B-grade economic news,  import price index up 0.6% M/m vs est. 0.8%  increase(range 0.2%-1.2% gain); prior revised to 0.5% drop from down  0.1%.

From the report:

Retail trade sales were up 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from December 2012 and 4.1 percent (±0.8%) above last year. Nonstore retailers were
up 15.7 percent (±2.3%) from January 2012 and auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 9.4 percent (±2.3%) from last year.