Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - Page 13 News List

US consumer confidence and sales growth sluggish

Reuters, WASHINGTON

US consumer confidence ebbed early this month and retail sales advanced just slightly last month, the latest indications of a lack of momentum in the economy.

The sluggish pace of activity was underscored by another report on Friday showing an energy-led rise in wholesale prices last month, but subdued underlying inflation pressures.

The soft data, however, was unlikely to deter the Federal Reserve from cutting its massive bond-buying program as early as next week, analysts said.

“I don’t think that’s a red flag for the Fed. Overall the data picture is mixed and supports our view that it will be a light taper,” a US economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York Thomas Costerg said.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment fell 5.3 points to 76.8 early this month, the lowest since April.

Economists pointed to worries over high interest rates and a possible US military strike on Syria.

Borrowing costs have risen sharply in recent months in anticipation of the Federal Reserve scaling back its monthly bond purchases.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed retail sales rose 0.2 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles and other long-lasting goods like furniture, electronics and appliances.

However, those purchases appeared to draw spending power away from other areas and receipts for clothing, building materials and sporting goods all fell.

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