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US retail sales rebound in January from bleak December

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Washington (AFP)

The US economy saw retail sales rebound slightly in January but December's sales were even worse than originally reported, according to government data released Monday.

The bleak December figures were yet another sign of the economic angst in the latter part of 2018, as the US-China trade war inflamed fears of a global slowdown.

Retail sales gained 0.2 percent in January, in line with economists' forecasts, but December sales fell 1.6 percent from the prior month, revised from the 1.2 percent decline originally reported, the Commerce Department said.

The data collection and release were delayed due to the five-week government shutdown as President Donald Trump demanded funding for a border wall, which also sapped consumer and business confidence.

Sales in January were 2.3 percent higher than January 2018, while December was 1.7 percent above the same month of 2017, according to the report.

Excluding motor vehicles and parts, January sales were better -- up 0.9 percent -- and December's were much worse: a drop of 2.1 percent.

Online retailers saw sales jump 2.6 percent in January from the prior month, after a 5 percent drop in December, the data showed.

At the start of the year, retailers posted big declines for motor vehicles, furniture, clothing and gasoline stations, with gains for sporting goods and book stores, building materials and garden supplies, food and beverage and health.

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