Retail Sales Still Sluggish, Rate Hike Even Less Likely
US retail sales didn't budge last month, further dashing hopes of a broad, pronounced economic recovery. The data in today's Commerce Department report showed that Americans are still putting big ticket purchases on hold despite recent upbeat labor market news and modest growth in the first quarter (which may well be revised downward into negative territory). Reuters notes that the news makes a rate hike next month all but certainly off the table. Indeed, future market traders now peg the date of any rate increase to December.
Even retail results excluding auto sales, gas, building materials and food services remained unchanged in April. Also, import prices declined for the 10th straight month. Perhaps the only bright spot in the report was the revision of March retail sector growth to 1.1% from an initial 0.9% rate. Analysts had expected the April numbers to be up 0.2%.