Retailers report tepid June sales

RETAIL ROUT: A number of retailers, Target, Costco, Kohl's and Macy's among them, reported June sales that fell short of most Wall Street expectations as confidence about the slowly recovering job market keeps people out of stores, or at least spending a lot of money in them.

TILL TROUBLES: Overall, revenue at stores open at least one year — an key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes the volatility of newly opened or closed stores — rose just 0.2 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That points to slowing activity from shoppers when compared with the 1.7 percent increase from May.

SCHOOL BELLS: Of paramount importance now is the back-to-school shopping season, which starts later this month and is the second largest shopping period behind the winter holidays. It may provide a clearer picture of whether this is a temporary pause by the consumer, or something more ominous for the economy as a whole. Consumer spending makes up 70 percent of economic growth in the U.S.