US retail sales up 0.2% in October 2004

The Commerce Department said US retail sales rose 0.2% as expected in October 2004, but stripping out weaker car sales the underlying message from the consumer was strong. A solid advance in the University of Michigan’s November consumer survey to 95.5 from 91.7, signaling the mood of shoppers may have brightened now that uncertainty over US presidential elections has been lifted, also gave a boost. Excluding auto sales, which can swing sharply from month to month, retail sales were up 0.9% compared with forecasts for a 0.5% gain and after a 0.8% advance in September, revised up from 0.6%. Sales of motor vehicles and parts declined 2.2%, a performance that had been anticipated following September’s strong incentive-induced 4.3% surge as dealers cut prices to boost end-of-season sales.