US August retail sales gain to ease fears of a new recession

City A.M. Reporter
Sales at US retailers posted their largest gain in five months in August on strong receipts at gasoline stations and clothing outlets, further assuaging fears of a double-dip recession.

The Commerce Department yesterday said total retail sales rose 0.4 per cent following a revised 0.3 per cent rise in July. It was the second straight month of gains in retail sales, which are a measure of consumer health. July sales had been previously reported to have increased 0.4 per cent.

“It suggests American consumers remain resilient despite the backdrop of high unemployment and declining home values. On the margin, this data reduces some concerns about a double-dip recession,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange.

US stock index futures turned positive after the report, while Treasury debt prices pared gains. The dollar briefly trimmed losses versus the yen.

Data so far for August, including private payrolls and manufacturing, have pointed to a tentative improvement in the economy after a recent soft patch.

The recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s has cooled off as the boost from an $814bn (£524bn) government stimulus package fades and unemployment remains stubbornly high.