US retail sales at 6-month low

<p>US retail sales were flat in July.</p>

New US retail sales data for July highlighted the sector's worse performance since January this year. 

Figures show that a slowing car demand and sluggish wage growth hampered sales, raising worries about the US economy in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said today (August 13th) in Washington that retail sales were also held back by weak sales of furniture, electronics and appliances. The slowdown in purchases followed a 0.2 per cent advance in June.

July's reading was the weakest since January, with 'core sales' (automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services) edging up 0.1 per cent in July, while this figure was 0.5 per cent in June.

“There’s no sign of momentum or enthusiasm out of the consumer right now," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist atPierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, quoted by Bloomberg.

"Income growth continues to be so-so. Employment has picked up in recent months but you’re not seeing the growth in hours worked that would generate big increases in paychecks. I don’t think people have the wherewithal, not to mention the inclination, to ramp it up," he added.

In contrast with retails figures, the Labor Department has also released data showing that the labour market is slowly improving with job openings rising in June to the highest level in more than 13 years.

Employers have added more than 200,000 jobs in each of the past six months, the best performance since 1997.

Stocks rose today on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 44 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 16604 at 10:30 ET in New York. The S&P 500 gained 7 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1941, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 23 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4413.

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