US retail sales drop unexpectedly in January by 0.4%

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, and another gauge of consumer spending also slipped.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that retail sales fell 0.4 per cent last month, led by a drop in automobile sales. Sales fell by a revised 0.1 per cent in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that retail sales would be unchanged in January after rising by a previously reported 0.2 per cent in December.

Stripping out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, so-called core sales fell 0.3 per cent after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3 per cent in December. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Economists had expected this category to advance 0.2 per cent in January.

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