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U.S. retail sales register smallest gain in 6 months

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — U.S. retail sales registered the smallest gain in six months in August as consumers reduced purchases of automobiles and clothing, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

Sales of U.S. retail and food services rose 0.1 percent from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted 509 billion U.S. dollars in August, according to the department. That was below economists’ expectations for a 0.4 percent increase last month, marking the smallest monthly gain since February.

The weaker-than-expected retail sales data in August was largely due to a drop in sales of automobiles and clothing, the department said.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 0.8 percent last month, while sales at clothing stores dropped 1.7 percent, the biggest drop since February 2017.

Excluding the volatile motor vehicles and parts as well as gasoline, U.S. retail sales rose 0.2 percent last month, according to the department.

As consumer spending accounts for about two thirds of U.S. economic output, the weak retail sales report might suggest that the U.S. economic growth could slow a little bit in the third quarter of the year.

The U.S. economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the third quarter, lower than 4.2 percent in the previous quarter, according to the latest forecast released on Friday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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