Disappointing US Retail Sales

Posted December 13th, 2011 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. retail sales rose a meager two-tenths of a percent in November, which is less than the previous month, and less than most economists expected.

Tuesday’s data comes from the Commerce Department. Experts watch retail sales closely because consumer demand drives about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Later Tuesday, officials of the U.S. cental bank are expected to announce that they will hold the key interest rate at the ultra-low level where it has been for about three years.

The low rate is intended to bolster the troubled economy, which is plagued by high unemployment and falling housing prices.

The Federal Reserve has taken other steps to speed economic growth, such as a program intended to cut long-term interest rates with the purchases of large quantities of government bonds.

Economists surveyed by news agencies predict the Fed will not announce any new actions at this time. Sometime next year, officials are expected to outline a new program to make the central bank’s messages to the market more clear and more effective.