WASHINGTON Jan 14 A gauge of U.S. consumer
spending rose more than expected in December, suggesting the
economy gathered steam at the end of last year and was poised
for stronger growth in 2014.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday retail sales
excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food
services, increased 0.7 percent last month after a 0.2 percent
rise in November.
The so-called core sales correspond most closely with the
consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected core retail sales to
rise 0.3 percent in December.
The increase suggested consumer spending accelerated in the
fourth quarter from the third quarter. It was also the latest
indication of strong momentum in the economy at the end of 2013.
Core sales last month were lifted by a 1.8 percent rise in
receipts at clothing stores. Sales at food and beverage stores
recorded their largest increase in seven years. There were also
increases in online store sales.
A cold snap during the month likely contributed to holding
down sales of automobiles. Receipts at auto dealers fell 1.8
percent, the largest decline since October 2012. Auto sales had
risen 1.9 percent in November.
That limited overall retail sales to a 0.2 percent gain in
December. Retail sales increased 0.4 percent in November.
Economists had expected retail sales to edge up 0.1 percent
Retail sales excluding automobiles rose 0.7 percent. Sales
of furniture, sporting goods, building materials and garden
equipment and electronic appliances fell.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)