Entries in Commerce Department (21)


December Retail Sales Top Forecast

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Retail sales climbed 0.5 percent in December from November to $415.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday.  That beat the median of forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg News, who expected a 0.2 percent rise for the key shopping month.

December’s increase is slightly better than the 0.4 percent increase in November.

Car sales, including auto parts, led the rise in retail sales with a 1.6 percent increase.

Retailers had previously reported a strong holiday shopping season, driven by last-minute shoppers.  The holiday shopping season is especially important for the retail industry, with some stores making as much as 40 percent of sales in that period.

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It’s a Slow Economic Recovery, More Data Show

Zoonar/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two new pieces of info about the U.S. economy out Friday add to the pile of data indicating a frustratingly slow economic recovery.

Americans spent more in August even though their income barely grew, the Commerce Department said.  The spending increase was driven in part by higher gas prices.  The report also showed that weak job and wage growth are keeping American incomes low.

Another widely observed report on U.S. economic activity showed the first slide in three years.  Slowing growth in China and the persistent problems in Europe are likely contributors to this drop.

The upcoming election will settle some things, according to the report.  “Uncertainty about taxes, regulations, and public policy going into 2013 is causing spending decisions to be deferred or constrained until the picture is clearer,” it said.

While this is obviously not good news, it’s important to keep in mind that this is just one month’s worth of data.  It is not clear whether this is a blip or a larger trend.

There was also news on Europe’s debt crisis: Spanish banks are short about $69.2 billion, according to stress test results, which is in line with expectations.  This is one step on the way to Spain tapping into EU funds to help its economy and banking sector.

U.S. markets are trading about a third of a percent lower Friday afternoon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Higher Gas Prices Drove Consumer Prices Up in February 

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Consumer prices in the United States rose by 0.4 percent in February, according to the latest report from the Commerce Department.  That's the biggest jump in 10 months.

Much of the increase is because of higher gas prices.  If you take out food and gas, the core rate of inflation remains tame, gaining just 0.1 percent last month.

Even so, consumers are feeling the pressure.  Over the past year, prices have increased by about 3 percent -- that's slightly above average wage hikes, meaning many Americans with full time jobs are still struggling to maintain their standard of living.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Rises 0.4% after Weak Holiday Numbers

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The milder than normal winter of 2012 seems to have invigorated Americans, sending more of them to stores to spend money.

According to the Commerce Department, sales of retail goods last month were up by 0.4 percent from the same period last year, a better than expected showing seeing as how lackluster the holiday shopping season was.

Folks were opening their wallets and pocket books to buy electronics, sporting goods and house and garden supplies.  The nicer weather meant it was easier to travel to bars and restaurants.

Another factor for increased spending: higher prices at the pump that will continue rising throughout the rest of the winter and into the spring.

January's increase isn't enough to put the economic recovery on the fast track but economists are nonetheless encouraged that consumers continue to spend more than they have in recent years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Personal Incomes Shot Up in December; Consumer Spending Fell Flat

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what comes as promising news for American workers, personal incomes rose again in December by the highest percentage in nine months.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that incomes increased $61.3 billion, or 0.5 percent, to wrap up 2011, marking the fourth straight month of gains. The previous month, incomes jumped by a 10th of a percent.

But while Americans may have had more money in their pockets to spend on gifts, consumer spending during the holiday shopping month fell flat.  The same report shows the figure was unchanged in December after rising by 0.1 percent the previous month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GDP Rose 2.8% in Fourth Quarter

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Commerce Department reported Friday that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 2.8 percent pace in the last three months of 2011, slightly less than expected but an increase over the prior quarter.

Economists expected a growth rate of about 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, in part because of strong holiday shopping and car sales.

Real GDP, the output of goods and services produced in the U.S., increased at a revised annual rate of 1.8 percent in the third quarter.  The Commerce Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the disappointing figure ahead of the holiday shopping season on Dec. 22.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


December Retail Sales Fall Short of Expectations

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales in December rose to $400.6 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent but less than the 0.3 to 0.4 percent many economists had expected, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Customers responded to deep discounts during the holiday season, though analysts are waiting to see if consumers will continue their spending pace in 2012.

The Commerce Department also revised November’s retail sales figure to an 0.4 percent increase from 0.2 percent.  The figure was 6.5 percent above sales in December 2010.

Retail sales were boosted in part by strong car sales in December.  Excluding automobiles, retail sales dropped 0.2 percent.

For the year, total sales increased 7.7 percent from 2010, the strongest year since 1999, Bloomberg reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Housing Starts Rise by 9.3%, Highest Level Since April 2010

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Builders broke ground on 9.3 percent more homes in November than they did in October, marking the highest increase in housing starts since April 2010, according to the latest government report released Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says construction began last month on a seasonally-adjusted rate of 685,000 new homes across the country, with 447,000 of them being single-family homes.  The figure exceeded economists' expectations, who, according to a Bloomberg survey, predicted housing starts would have fallen between 600,000 to 655,000.

Furthermore, in a sign of future home construction, the report also shows that building permits rose in November, jumping to 681,000 -- a 5.7 percent increase from October.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


November Retail Sales Fall Short; Rise Just 0.2%

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Shoppers spent more on consumer electronics, furniture and clothing during the first month of the holiday shopping season according to the latest government report, but sales dropped at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales in November rose only 0.2 percent -- less than what many economists had predicted.

Despite the modest gain, last month's increase marked the sixth straight month retail sales have gone up.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Rises in October; Wholesale Prices Drop

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what could be a good precursor to the holiday shopping season, retail sales rose in October for the fifth month in a row, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The Commerce Department says last month's increase was 0.5 percent -- a fairly strong showing. The figure is the first indicator of fourth quarter growth.

Meanwhile, another report released by the Labor Department on Tuesday shows that wholesale prices dropped 0.3 percent in October, with companies paying less for gas and new cars, among other goods.  The drop in the Producer Price Index is a sign of less inflation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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