U.S. retail sales recorded their largest decline in 11 months in December as demand fell almost across the board, which could temper expectations for a sharp acceleration in consumer spending in the fourth quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday retail sales fell 0.9 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in November.
It was the biggest decline since last January and exceeded economists’ expectations for only a 0.1 percent drop.
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, sales fell 0.4 percent last month after a 0.6 percent rise in November.
Economists expected the so-called core retail sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, to rise 0.4 percent last month. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
U.S. stock index futures extended losses on the data, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt jumped. The dollar fell to a four-week low against the yen.
December’s surprise decline could dampen expectations for a sharp rise in consumer spending in the final three months of 2014. But with the labor market strengthening and gasoline prices continuing to fall, December’s decline in core retail sales will likely be temporary.
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