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U.S. retail sales increase 0.3% in January

U.S. retail sales increase 0.3% in January (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Sales at U.S. retail stores rose 0.3% in January to mark the seventh straight monthly gain, but the increase was the lowest since last summer, according to the latest Commerce Department data. Sales excluding the volatile auto segment were also up 0.3%. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast sales to rise by 0.6% overall, and by 0.6% excluding autos. The government also revised sales in December lower, to a 0.5% gain from 0.6% as originally reported. The biggest increase in sales took place at gas stations, grocery and liquor stores, auto retailers and online and catalog merchants. Sales fell at clothing and building-supply stores. Consumers also spent less at bars and restaurants and bought fewer leisurely items such as books, music and sporting goods.

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U.S. retail sales increase 0.3% in January