December retail sales in US beat expectations
US retail sales rose in December by more than analysts had expected, as Americans spent more on cars and home furnishings.
The Commerce Department said that sales totaled 415.7 billion dollars in the month, up 0.5 percent on the previous month. Compared with a year earlier, sales rose by 4.7 percent.
With consumer spending accounting for about 70 percent of US economic activity, analysts said the figures were good news for the economy, the BBC reports.
Sales of cars and car parts rose by 1.6 percent from November, while sales of furniture and personal care products were 1.4 percent higher.
According to the report, policymakers spent much of December trying to agree a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, which would have seen tax rises and spending cuts kick in at the beginning of January.
They eventually agreed to postpone a deal pending negotiations on the size of the cuts and tax rises, the report added.