U.S. retail sales jumped 1 percent in January, reversing a six-month declining trend and defying economists' expectations by posting the biggest increase in 14 months.
The Commerce Department says January retail sales rose a percent from December after having fallen for six straight months. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected January sales to show a drop of 0.8 percent. They plunged 2.7 percent in December, which had the weakest holiday selling season since at least 1969.
The January report shows strong increases in sales of automobiles and in general merchandise stores -- the "big box" outlets -- though sales by department stores, carrying fewer varieties of items, posted a decline.