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US economy looks weaker after subpar retail sales

Jul. 15, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy appears to be weaker than many economists had thought after a report Monday showed consumers spent cautiously in June at retail businesses.

Americans bought more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes. But they cut back almost everywhere else. They spent less at restaurants and bars, reduced purchases at home improvement stores, and bought fewer computers and electronics.

Overall retail spending rose 0.4 percent in June from May, the Commerce Department said. But excluding volatile spending on autos, gasoline and building supplies, so-called core retail sales rose just 0.15 percent. That's the weakest gain since January.

Economists said the deceleration in retail sales could slow economic growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate below 1 percent. That's weaker than many had thought and would be down from a tepid 1.8 percent rate in the January-March quarter.

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