January Surprise: Retail Sales Edge Higher
US retail sales edged up 1% in January ending a 6-month decline. But unemployment claims reached a record 4.8 million 2 weeks ago underscoring the continued downward pressure on consumer spending and suggesting there's more bad news ahead despite last week's slight drop in new claims to 623 000. The US Commerce Department says January's report includes increases in car sales and general merchandise sold through big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT). But cash-strapped consumers are staying away from higher-priced department stores. Macy's (M) for example  recently announced it would cut 7000 jobs or about 4% of its workforce ...
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