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U.S. retail sales rose in January for a fourth straight month as cheaper prices at the gas pump encouraged Americans to spend on other goods, underscoring steady consumer spending.

MSN reported that the value of overall sales climbed 0.3% after a downwardly revised 0.2% increase the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today (Feb. 14). Excluding receipts at filling stations, retail purchases increased 0.3%, the most in five months.

One caveat in today’s data was the “control group” subset of sales, which was unchanged in January after a downwardly revised 0.2% December gain. The measure excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, providing a reading that’s tied better to underlying consumer demand.

Treasury prices rose and equity futures ticked lower after the report.

Steady demand at retailers indicates the consumer remains the economy’s key fuel source. Resilient hiring and wage growth are helping to boost both sentiment and spending. Economists forecast household outlays to increase in the first quarter at about the same pace as the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, economic risks remain with sluggish export markets, weak business spending and any fallout from the coronavirus.

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