WASHINGTON Retail sales rose in April at the slowest pace of the year as Americans took a break from a shopping spree induced by unseasonably warm weather in prior months and an earlier Easter holiday.
The 0.1 percent gain followed a 0.7 percent increase in March, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The April advance matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
Sales of clothing declined, while purchases excluding cars, building materials and service stations -- the category used to calculate gross domestic product -- rose more than forecast. Other reports today showed manufacturing in the New York region accelerated more than projected, and confidence among U.S. homebuilders jumped to a five-year high.
“Consumers overall are still pretty much engaged,” said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, the most-accurate forecaster of retail sales in the two years through April, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. “Manufacturing is still a solid contributor to growth. It is growing with the pace of demand.”
Stocks swung between gains and losses after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped to the lowest level in three months, as Greece’s struggle to form a government tempered better-than- estimated economic data. The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,338.56 at 2:12 p.m. in New York.
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany helped the euro area avoid its second recession in three years as growth in the region’s largest economy offset contractions in peripheral countries.