The latest report on retail sales shows Americans were spending more last month especially on cars and restaurants. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Two fresh data points this Thursday to give us a pulse on the U.S. economy. Helped by low gas prices, consumers ramped up spending in July. The Commerce Department's monthly reading on retail sales rose six tenths of one percent in July from the prior month. June's figures were revised to flat from a previously reported decline. Gains were broad based with Americans boosting spending on cars, furniture, building supplies, and restaurants. The upbeat report could strengthen expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike as early as next month. Jim O'Sullivan, Chief U.S. Economist at High Frequency Economics says: "The data signal further upward revision to Q2 GDP and a solid start for Q3." And on the labor front, first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 274,000 for the week ending August 8th. But the more closely watch four-week moving average, which smoothes out volatility, now stands at the lowest level since 2000.