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article imageU.S. retail sales down, new jobless claims up unexpectedly

By Michael Krebs     Aug 13, 2009 in Business
The U.S. economy continues to meander through its many challenges, with retail sales dipping and new jobless claims rising. Both events were unexpected.
The American economic crystal ball is decidedly murky. Economists expectations in retail sales and in jobless claims were both dashed in reports released on Thursday.
"Retail sales disappointed in July and the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week," The Associated Press reported on Thursday. "The latest government reports reinforced concerns about how quickly consumers will be able to contribute to a broad economic recovery."
The Commerce Department reported that retail sales declined by 0.1 percent last month, even though economists had expected a 0.7 percent gain.
"There is really no positive spin to put on these numbers," Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note, according to AP. "The U.S. consumer remains very weak. The jobs situation, while slowly improving, is still dismal."
The Labor Department numbers reflected an increase in initial unemployment claims - to 558,000 from 554,000 last week. According to Reuters, the expectation among analysts was that initial unemployment claims should to have dropped to 545,000.
"Households are in no position to drive a decent economic recovery," Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients, AP reported.
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