High gasoline prices restrain US retail sales in April

High gasoline prices restrain US retail sales in April

WASHINGTON - Reuters
High gasoline prices restrain US retail sales in April

U.S. retail sales increased moderately in April as rising gasoline prices cut into discretionary spending, but consumer spending appeared on track to accelerate after slowing sharply in the first quarter.

The Commerce Department said yesterday that retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month after surging 0.8 percent in March. Last month’s increase in retail sales was in line with economists’ expectations. Retail sales in April increased 4.7 percent from a year ago.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after increasing 0.5 percent increase in March.

While consumer spending is picking up, the rise could be limited by gasoline prices, which have risen about 31 cents per gallon this year.

The gasoline price rise, if sustained, could blunt the impact of lower income taxes on consumer spending. Gasoline prices are near $3 per gallon, according to official data.

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