U.S. Economy

     (CN) – U.S. retail sales showed a solid gain in April, while producer prices rose for first time in three months, the federal government reported Friday.
     According to the Commerce Department, retail sales climbed a seasonally adjusted 1.3 percent last month, after a drop in March attributed to a decline car sales.
     Government economists say auto sales bounced backin April, with sales rising 3.2 percent. Online purchases increased 2.1 percent.
     But even better, restaurants, sporting goods stores, grocers, gas stations and the department store sector, which has been limping of late, all saw better sales last month .
     Only building materials stores suffered a monthly decline, although their annual sales growth was solid.
     Total retail sales have risen 3 percent in the past 12 months.
     In other news, the Labor Department announced Friday that the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, increased 0.2 percent in April. That followed small declines in February and March. Producer prices were unchanged from a year ago.
     Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, producer prices ticked up 0.1 percent last month and 0.9 percent from a year ago.

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