US retail sales slump catches economists off guard

A sudden slump in US retail sales figures has confounded expert predictions.

The US Commerce Department has reported sales falling 0.9% last month. The decline is the biggest for almost two years and has taken economists by surprise. In May retail sales rose by 1.5%.

June’s figure was mainly the result of a drop in the car market, but even without that sales were down 0.4%. Furniture sales dropped 3% while sales of building materials and garden supplies fell 2.3%, reflecting the troubled state of the housing market.

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