US retail sales rebound in March

WASHINGTON – US retail sales rebounded in March after three straight monthly declines as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items, suggesting consumer spending was heading into the second quarter with some momentum.

Economists saw a limited impact on retail sales for now from a recent ebb in consumer sentiment, citing a robust labour market, which is steadily pushing up wage growth.

Consumer sentiment slipped in early April as households worried about the potential impact of the Trump administration’s trade policies on the economy.

Fears of a trade war between China and the United States have roiled financial markets.

“The trade war and battered stock market may yet cause the consumer to temper their consumption expenditures, but for the moment, the sun is out and shining,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

“Consumers are doing their part to drive the economy forward as they restart their engines from a cold and snowy winter.”

The Commerce Department said on Monday retail sales increased 0.6 per cent last month after an unrevised 0.1 per cent dip in February.

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