Tuesday, April 13, 2004

March retail sales log unexpectedly big rise

WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - U.S. shoppers turned out in force in March, pushing retail sales to their strongest gain in a year, according to a government report on Tuesday that may prompt economists to raise forecasts for first-quarter growth.
Separate private-sector reports on weekly chain store sales showed that this momentum carried into early April, helped by the Easter holiday.
"The implications of these data are massive. Off the top of my head, I would say that we just moved from 4 percent GDP growth in Q1 to something like 5 percent," said Steven Stanley, chief economist at RBS Greenwich Capital. The economy expanded at a 4.1 percent pace in the final three months of 2003.

In response, the Kerry campaign has retooled their "misery index" to include the cost of boxseats at Yankee Stadium.

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