U.S. Retail Sales Rise More than Expected in Dec. on Discounts, Job Additions

January 15, 2013 9:45 AM EST
U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in December and added to gains in the previous month as widespread discounting and growing employment coaxed most Americans into open pocketbooks a little wider.

According to latest figures from the U.S Census Bureau, adjusted U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent from November and 4.7 percent over last December. Economists were looking for a more modest rise of 0.2 percent.

Excluding autos, sales rose 0.3 percent, which was in-line with expectations.

Total retail sales improved 5.2 percent while fourth-quarter sales improved 4.2 percent.

Sales of motor vehicles and parts improved 2.7 percent from November, a boon for the likes of Ford (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM).

Spending at clothing chains improved one percent while the same at department stores rose 0.3 percent. Macy's (NYSE: M), Gap, Inc. (NYSE: GPS), and Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) all reported comps that topped views in December as late-season discounts lured in last-minute shoppers.

Nonfarm payroll additions were 155,000 workers in December, adding to a 161,000 worker gain in November and keeping the unemployment rate steady at 7.8 percent.

Given that consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of GDP, this is a metric to watch as the Fed mulls an early exit of QE measures and new tax standards brought about by the fiscal cliff reduces overall net income to Americans.

U.S. markets are lower at the start Tuesday.

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