Market CommentariesRetail Sales Strengthen in June - July 15, 2014

The U.S. Commerce Department, within the past hour, reported that retail sales rose modestly in June, with such activity gaining 0.2% for the month. That respectable result, while less impressive than the upwardly revised May gain of 0.5%, still suggests that the nation's economy pressed forward nicely in the April-through-June period, following a plunge of 2.9% in the weather-encumbered opening stanza.

As to the latest retail sales data, we saw that sales, backing out high-ticket autos, climbed by 0.4%. Auto sales, by comparison, dipped a bit, falling by 0.3% last month.

Meanwhile, looking out over the past year, we saw that retail spending increased by a solid 4.3%. Total sales for the April-through-June period were up a formidable 4.5% on that same basis. As noted, May sales were up 0.5%. That gain represented an upward revision from the initially estimated advance of 0.3%.

Breaking the report down further, we note that sales strengthened modestly last month at food and beverage outlets (up 0.4%), while they were up more strongly at health and personal care stores (gaining 0.9%), at clothing and accessories stores (up 0.8%), and at sporting goods and hobby chains (up 0.6%). Sales, moreover, were ahead by 0.9% on the Internet.

Looked at on the whole, this was a slightly disappointing report, but not one that changes our view that the nation's gross domestic product, after sinking by 2.9% in the opening period, likely advanced by 3%, or more, in the recently ended three-month span. We expect the economy to do about as well in the concluding half of this year.