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US Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall in August | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO: Workers on the assembly line replace the back covers of 32-inch television sets at Element Electronics in Winnsboro, South Carolina, U.S. on May 29, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Keane/File Photo

Washington – US retail sales unexpectedly fell in August, US Commerce Department figures showed Friday.

The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales dropped 0.2 percent last month. Data for July was revised to show sales increasing 0.3 percent instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent jump.

Retail sales rose by 0.2 percent in August after climbing by 0.4 percent in July. Ex-auto sales had been expected to increase by 0.5 percent.

The Fed said Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast late last month, was responsible for most of the decline by depressing oil drilling, petroleum refining and other industrial activity.

Overall industrial production fell 0.9 percent over the month after a July increase revised upward to 0.4 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had still expected a 0.1 percent increase in industrial output. The US central bank’s measure of the industrial sector comprises manufacturing, mining, and electric and gas utilities.

Though Harvey was a major force in the decline, helping push down mining output by 0.8 percent, other sectors contributed.

The output of consumer goods fell 0.7 percent as a rise in production of consumer durables was offset by declines in non-durables and consumer energy products. Production of motor vehicles and auto parts rose 2.2 percent.

Utilization of factory capacity fell 0.8 percentage point to 76.1 percent, compared to a revised upward figure of 76.9 percent in July, nearly 4 percentage points below the long run average.

Economists expected the storm to begin showing up in the output figures, but also in general feel those impacts will be offset by future increases.