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Retail Sales Creep Up; Unemployment Claims Edge Lower

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In better numbers than the market had been expecting, retail and food service sales were up in June, according to the Commerce Department. Seasonally adjusted sales were up 0.1 percent. That’s a rebound from May, when sales fell by the same amount.

For Newscast, Yuki Noguchi filed this report:

Retail sales saw their biggest increases in car parts, building and garden supplies and clothing — perhaps because consumers were spending less for gas during the month. In light of the bleak unemployment data that came out recently, the market had expected sales to decline. Compared to a year ago, retail spending is up in nearly every category. The biggest jump in spending has come at the pump, where U.S. consumers are spending 23 percent more on gasoline.

And according to the Labor Department’s new data, the number of new unemployment claims fell 22,000 last week, to 405,000. The success of car makers was one reason cited for the change. That added some good news to the economic mix, as a report last week found that the United States added only 18,000 jobs in June.

Still, many analysts blame a weak job market for making consumers tentative, and for keeping the broader economy from gaining momentum. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent.

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