US retail sales jump by 1% in February

shoppersshoppers February's rise in retail sales is the eighth one in a row

US retail sales are growing strongly, according to official data.

Monthly sales figures showed their eighth gain in a row, with February's up by 1%.

January's overall figures were revised upwards, from 0.3% to 0.7%, despite severe weather that month in parts of the US.

The Commerce Department also reported that on an annual basis retail sales were 8.9% higher than they were in February 2010.

Sales totaled $387bn, up 15.3% from the low reached in December 2008.

Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics, said: "This is a very encouraging report."

However, he warned that higher energy prices would start affecting household budgets in the next month or two.

The most recent figures for spending, which on its broadest measure accounts for 70% of US economic activity, show it grew at a 4.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the fastest for more than four years.

The data adds to the picture of an improving US economy.

Other recent data showed the jobless rate was falling, and export data healthier.

Manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in nearly seven years and the service sector expanded at its fastest pace for more than five years, according to recent figures.

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