US boosted by confidence on the high street

 
Julian Harris
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HOPES for a strong economic recovery in America received a double-boost yesterday, with news that consumers have hiked their spending while US firms are stocking up on goods as confidence returns.

The dollar climbed in early trading as investors took stock of the latest pieces of data to paint a bullish picture of the world’s largest economy.

Retail sales jumped 1.1 per cent in February compared to the first month of the year, the US Census Bureau said – taking them 4.6 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The figures were inflated by higher fuel prices, with sales at petrol stations up five per cent, yet analysts remained impressed by the data.

“Sales excluding autos and gas also surprised to the upside and rose by a healthy 0.4 per cent last month,” said Kathleen Brooks of Forex.com.

“This is significant as it suggests a resilience and confidence in the US consumer that the markets were worried would be lost after the expiry of the payroll tax cut at the start of the year and rising gas prices at the pump,” she added.

Meanwhile a separate data release showed that business inventories rose one per cent in January, compared to the final month of 2012.

Last week US prospects were boosted by a jump in nonfarm payrolls, which added 236,000 jobs in February.