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U.S. retail sales top expectations

U.S. retail sales rose more than forecast in January

U.S. retail sales rose more than forecast last month in a broad-based advance that indicates the consumer is well-positioned to propel the economy in early 2017.

The 0.4 percent advance in January followed a 1 percent gain in the prior month that was larger than previously reported, a Commerce Department report showed Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.1 percent rise. Excluding a decline at auto dealers, sales increased the most in four months.

Steady hiring, a modest improvement in wage growth and discounting are keeping consumers spending, providing a solid start to the first quarter. Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, are projected to drive growth while rising business optimism also suggests a pickup in investment.

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