U.S. retail sales rose by more than expected in March in the first gain in four months, suggesting consumer demand regained steam on the back of tax cuts and refunds.
Receipts advanced 0.6 percent following a 0.1 percent drop in the previous month, according to Commerce Department figures released Monday. That compared with the median estimate of economists for a 0.4 percent increase. So-called retail control-group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, gained 0.4 percent, matching estimates.
The improvement in demand went beyond a bump in auto sales, as consumers went shopping at furniture and home stores along with electronics and appliance sellers. The results underscore that the declines from December to February were more of a pause following a post-hurricane spending binge. That supports the Federal Reserve’s view that such weakness was transitory, as well as the central bank’s outlook for two or three more interest-rate increases this year following a quarter-point hike in March.
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