US retail sales up strong 1.1 percent in March - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

US retail sales up strong 1.1 percent in March

Posted:

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months, led by strong gains in sales of autos, furniture and a number of other products.

The 1.1 percent jump reported by the Commerce Department on Monday was the best showing since September 2012. The government also revised February to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate.

Sales had fallen in January and December.

Sales of autos climbed 3.1 percent while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that covers retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target and department stores, increased 1.9 percent, the strongest one-month gain since March 2007, before the country fell into recession.

The strong March gain provides more evidence that the economy is emerging from a harsh winter with some momentum.

Economists believe that warmer weather will encourage people to make purchases that they had not during a wave of winter storms. Consumers account for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, so spending on that front is critical in fueling a stronger recovery.

"Rising wealth, shrinking debt burdens and improving labor markets are helping American shoppers shake off the winter blahs," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Guatieri said he believed overall economic growth slowed to a 1.2 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter but will rebound to growth of 3.3 percent in the second quarter.

Many analysts believe a strong rebound in the current quarter will last through the rest of the year with growth averaging around 3 percent in the second half of 2014.

For March, sales in a core category of products that feed into the government's calculations of overall growth rose by 0.9 percent, more than double the 0.5 percent gain in February.

In addition to the strong showing for auto dealers and general merchandise stores, sales increased by solid amounts at furniture stores, hardware stores and clothing stores.

Stronger growth is expected to translate into more hiring and an improving labor market.

In March, the economy reached a milestone that was a long time coming. All of the private-sector jobs lost during the recession were recovered. Private businesses shed 8.8 million jobs during the 2007-2009 economic downturn. With the March gains, they have now hired 8.9 million workers. Government jobs are still below prerecession levels.

In March, employers added 192,000 jobs, just below February's gain of 1972,000 jobs. Going forward, some economists believe the stronger economy will lift average monthly job gains to around 225,000. That will mean more income earners and more consumer spending.

A more optimistic outlook for this year in which the economy gains momentum is the reason that the Federal Reserve has been trimming its monthly bond purchases and is expected to keep doing so throughout 2014. The bond purchases were designed to keep long-term interest rates low to give the economy a boost. But with the economy gaining strength, Fed officials have come to believe that the level of government support should be removed gradually.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Concern in Stewartville over a new policy by the school district

    Concern in Stewartville over a new policy by the school district

    According to the Unpaid Meal Charge Policy, if an account balance for a student is negative, those children are given an alternative meal. But the execution of this policy by Stewartville Public Schools is what's worrying some parents. 

    More >>

    According to the Unpaid Meal Charge Policy, if an account balance for a student is negative, those children are given an alternative meal. But the execution of this policy by Stewartville Public Schools is what's worrying some parents. 

    More >>
  • Rochester man tries to raise money for the Stewartville School Lunch Program

    Rochester man tries to raise money for the Stewartville School Lunch Program

    A story we brought you Thursday has garnered a lot of attention from viewers. We told you about a Stewartville Public Schools Policy giving students with negative account balances alternative lunches. On Friday we've learned about fundraising efforts to support students. 

    More >>

    A story we brought you Thursday has garnered a lot of attention from viewers. We told you about a Stewartville Public Schools Policy giving students with negative account balances alternative lunches. On Friday we've learned about fundraising efforts to support students. 

    More >>
  • Vehicle theft near Utica devastates farmer

    Vehicle theft near Utica devastates farmer

    A vehicle theft in rural Utica leaves a farmer wondering how he is going to be able to feed his cattle. Luke Kurth says he was having a normal Thursday morning until he returned from the vet to find his trailer, skid loader, and green 1999 F-350 truck all missing Kurth then called his neighbors who said they saw the equipment drive-by.

    More >>

    A vehicle theft in rural Utica leaves a farmer wondering how he is going to be able to feed his cattle. Luke Kurth says he was having a normal Thursday morning until he returned from the vet to find his trailer, skid loader, and green 1999 F-350 truck all missing Kurth then called his neighbors who said they saw the equipment drive-by.

    More >>
  • POLL: Do you agree with Stewartville Public School's 'Unpaid Meal Charge Policy'

    POLL: Do you agree with Stewartville Public School's 'Unpaid Meal Charge Policy'

    In the poll below, we want to hear what you have to think about Stewartville Public School's 'Unpaid Meal Charge Policy'. We will present the results of the poll in Friday's 10 p.m. newscast.

    More >>

    In the poll below, we want to hear what you have to think about Stewartville Public School's 'Unpaid Meal Charge Policy'. We will present the results of the poll in Friday's 10 p.m. newscast.

    More >>
  • One man crime spree takes over northeast Rochester neighborhood Thursday afternoon

    One man crime spree takes over northeast Rochester neighborhood Thursday afternoon

    An elderly couple down the street was just arriving home when the male suspect was in their backyard. "As I drove up I saw him standing there, so I went up this side to ask him what he was doing," said homeowner Gerald McGuire. McGuire approached the man, who told McGuire he would beat him up. The suspect ran and went into McGuire's truck, while the wife, who was still inside, began to honk.

    More >>

    An elderly couple down the street was just arriving home when the male suspect was in their backyard. "As I drove up I saw him standing there, so I went up this side to ask him what he was doing," said homeowner Gerald McGuire. McGuire approached the man, who told McGuire he would beat him up. The suspect ran and went into McGuire's truck, while the wife, who was still inside, began to honk.

    More >>
  • Unclaimed money could be yours

    Unclaimed money could be yours

    It's the 13th agreement in settlements with companies over unpaid claims, annuity contracts and retained asset accounts.

    More >>

    It's the 13th agreement in settlements with companies over unpaid claims, annuity contracts and retained asset accounts.

    More >>
  • Minnesota man charged with fatally running over girlfriend

    Minnesota man charged with fatally running over girlfriend

    Authorities have charged a 42-year-old Watertown man who allegedly killed his live-in girlfriend by running her over with his trickMore >>
    Authorities have charged a 42-year-old Watertown man who allegedly killed his live-in girlfriend by running her over with his trickMore >>
  • Package thief strikes two Oronoco homes

    Package thief strikes two Oronoco homes

    A package thief is at work in Oronoco, according to the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. Deputies were called to the 300 Block of 5th Street Southeast just before 2:00 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, after a neighbor witnessed a driver in a white Pontiac back into a driveway, get out, and take a package sitting on the front doorstep of the home. The Pontiac Grand AM or Grand Prix had a sun roof and rear spoiler, according to the witness. Inside the stolen package were two pairs of chi...More >>
    A package thief is at work in Oronoco, according to the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. Deputies were called to the 300 Block of 5th Street Southeast just before 2:00 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, after a neighbor witnessed a driver in a white Pontiac back into a driveway, get out, and take a package sitting on the front doorstep of the home. The Pontiac Grand AM or Grand Prix had a sun roof and rear spoiler, according to the witness. Inside the stolen package were two pairs of chi...More >>
Powered by Frankly