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Gasoline Sales Boost February Retail Activity

Led by a surge in gasoline prices, retail sales rose 1.1 percent in February, the ""Census Bureau"":http://www2.census.gov/retail/releases/historical/marts/adv1302.pdf reported Wednesday. Economists had expected an increase of 0.5 percent. In January, retails sales rose 0.2 percent.

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Gasoline station sales rose 5.0 percent in February after a 0.7 percent increase in January.

Total retail activity rose $4.4 billion in February, the largest component of which was gas station sales, which rose $2.3 billion. Auto sales contributed $866 billion to the month-over-month increase, a 1.1 percent increase from January.

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While often reported as a measure of consumer activity, the retail sales report is price-driven. The report is adjusted for seasonal variations ""but not for price changes,"" the Census Bureau said.

February sales were up 4.6 percent from sales a year earlier, an improvement from January, when sales were up 4.2 percent.

In addition to the increases in gasoline and auto, sales increased at food and beverage stores ($410 million) and building material and garden supply stores ($289 million), with smaller increases at health and personal care and clothing stores.

Sales dropped $127 million at furniture stores, reflecting still weak home sales and dropped at sporting good stores as well.

Restaurant sales dropped $302 million after falling $290 million in January. Restaurant sales in February were at their lowest levels since October.

Sales totals at building material and garden supply stores rose for the fourth month in a row and for the seventh time in the last eight months, while furniture store sales dropped for the first time since October.

_Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S.--Sirius 124--every Friday at 6:40 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Eastern time._

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.
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