Retail Sales Rebound Signals Thaw in Economic Activity

Retail Sales Rebound Signals Thaw in Economic Activity

Mannequins display fashions in an H&M storefront window advertising discounts up to 75%, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mannequins display fashions in an H&M storefront window advertising discounts up to 75%, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

 

(Reuters) – Retail sales rose in March for the first time since November as consumers stepped up purchases of automobiles and other goods, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter was temporary.

The Commerce Department’s fairly sturdy report on Tuesday together with other data showing that producer inflation crept up last month should keep the Federal Reserve on track to start raising interest rates later this year.

An unusually snowy winter undercut activity early in 2015. Labor disruptions at normally busy West Coast ports, a stronger dollar and softer global demand also have hurt growth.

“A rebound in retail sales in March provides evidence that the U.S. economy is pulling out of a soft patch seen at the start of the year. The improvement in retail sales … adds to the likelihood of policymakers voting to hike rates this year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in London.

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