Boost for US retailers as strong holiday sales offer hope for American recovery

Julian Harris
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THE Fed’s second phase of quantitative easing (QE2) came under attack yesterday, after
jumps in retail sales, business morale and inflation.

Retail sales for November increased by 0.8 per cent, and figures for the previous month were revised upwards to show a 1.7 per cent rise.

“Today’s figures suggest that QE2, announced on 3 November, is totally superfluous, as well as being largely ineffective - except for pushing up stock prices,” said Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING.

“Underlying sales growth [excluding petrol price hikes] has been ticking along at this decent rate for four months,” said Capital Economics.

And the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced a rise in optimism to its highest level for three years.

Despite the rise, business optimism is still at recession levels, Bill Dunkelberg of NFIB warned.

Core producer prices (excluding oil and food) jumped 0.3 per cent in November, against the previous month.

“Whilst not inflationary, the high figures suggest that the Fed’s concerns over deflation are substantially overdone,” said Carnell.

Last week Fed chairman Ben Bernanke hinted at a third period of easing (QE3), citing concerns over growth and unemployment. “That really does not look credible right now,” commented Carnell.