United States stocks flat but retail sales lift dollar

Total retail sales rose 0.6 percent with Americans plunking down $478.9 billion in July a solid 4.2 percent above the same month last year the Commerce Department reported

Not only did the July numbers comfortably beat expectations but the June numbers were also revised higher, providing an additional boost for dollar bulls.

The strong auto sales came despite industry reports which showed vehicle and truck sales fell six per cent from July 2016. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.4% increase.

The US dollar got a boost on Tuesday after data showed retail sales in the US held up well in July, while a measure of business activity among NY state's manufacturers rose at its fastest pace in three years.

Auto sales helped drive the mid-summer upswing after sagging for much of the year, posting the biggest gain since December last year.

Nunes said the June 12Valentine's Day celebrations also stoked retail sales.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales surged 0.6 per cent last month after an upwardly revised 0.1 per cent gain in June.

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The June level of retail sales is 4.2% higher than the same time a year earlier.

Department stores, a sub-category of general merchandise stores, and sporting goods, hobby, books and music stores repeated as the only two categories in negative territory.

The saving rate has dropped to 3.8 per cent in the second quarter of this year from a rate of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2015.

The report "shows households still had plenty of buying power as the third quarter got under way in July", MarketWatch said, noting that "Steady hiring, the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years and gently rising incomes have all buoyed spending in 2017, keeping the economy on a modest growth path more than eight years after an expansion took hold".

Excluding sales of autos and parts, sales rose by 0.5% on the month to hit $378.8bn (consensus: 0.4%). There were also strong gains in sales at furniture stores, hardware stores and restaurants.

However, cheap gasoline and falling sales of electronics and clothing items still weighed on sales last month.

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