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U.S. retail sales rise solid 0.4% in January

WASHINGTON -- A report released Tuesday by the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending on retail goods rebounded in January after a flat holiday season.

Retail sales rose at a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month, as consumers upped spending at department and general merchandise stores, as well as bought more electronics, home and garden supplies and sporting goods. Excluding autos, building materials and fuel sales, retail spending leaped 0.7%.

Retail sales have risen about 21% since recessionary lows. Latest results put sales almost 6% above their pre-recession highs. However, results in January still missed views, as a median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted a 0.8% rise for the month.

Nine of 13 major categories showed gains in January, led by a 2% increase at general merchandise stores, including department stores – the largest gain in five years.