Surprise rise in US retail sales

<p>US retail sales rose slightly during April.</p>

Data released by the US Commerce Department has shown there was an unexpected small rise in retail sales last month.

Analysts had forecast sales to be flat over the course of April, but figures showed there was a 0.1 per cent upturn, helping to cancel out some of the 0.5 per cent fall recorded in March.

Excluding petrol station sales, retail spending was found to be up by some 0.7 per cent, which perhaps indicates consumers are more confident about the state of the US economy.

"Consumer spending looks to have started the second quarter off on a solid note," Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, told BBC News.

Core sales increased by 0.5 per cent. This data does not include sales of cars, petrol and building materials and is seen by some specialists as a key indicator.

Despite the modest rise in retail sales during April, the Dow Jones is down today (May 13th).

At 16:27 BST, it was down by almost 50 points – a drop of 0.28 per cent – on the start of the day's trading.

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