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Retail Sluggishness

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Retail sales in the United States – a key driver of what’s left of our nation’s “free market” economy – expanded at just 0.2 percent in August, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

That’s down from an upwardly revised 0.4 percent figure in July and well below the 0.5 percent increase forecast by economists.

“Excluding the government loan-funded autos and volatile gas sales, retail sales barely rose, increasing at the lowest possible pace, or 0.1 percent, and below the expected 0.3 percent rate, and well below the revised 0.6 percent from July,” reports the website Zero Hedge.

The worst news? An unexpectedly high 0.9 percent drop in “building and garden material sales,” which would indicate weakness in the so-called “housing recovery.”

Retail sales account for roughly one-third of all consumer spending in America. They have risen by just 4.7 percent over the past twelve months, a sign of slowing economic momentum.

UPDATE: Consumer confidence … or lack thereof. Another dent in the armor.

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