Retail sales in the U.S. climbed for a second straight month, a sign consumers may be looking past recent volatility in financial markets.
The 0.2 percent increase in August followed a 0.7 percent gain in July that was larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday in Washington. The median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.3 percent advance.
Although confidence has taken a hit from stock-market turmoil and global-growth concerns, the data show households are still putting their savings from cheap energy to work. More jobs and higher pay would go a long way in supporting household spending, which Federal Reserve policy makers are watching as they consider raising interest rates as soon as this week.
“The trend is strong and robust,” said Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics USA in New York, who correctly forecast the increase in retail sales. Tuesday’s data shows spending is “resistant to outside shocks, and that’s quite important at this point in time.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a decrease of 0.1 percent to a 0.6 percent gain. July retail sales were previously reported as up 0.6 percent. June data was unrevised at little changed.
Another report showed that while consumers are holding up, factories are struggling. Manufacturing in the New York region contracted in September for a second straight month, reflecting declining orders and employment, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.