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Economic Report: U.S. retail sales climb in April in a sign economy still has spunk

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The numbers: Sales at U.S. retailers rose a solid 0.9% in April and pointed to a steadily growing economy. Auto dealers led the way but most major retail categories posted gains.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 1% advance.

The increase in sales in March, meanwhile, was raised to 1.4% from an original 0.7%.

If gas stations and auto dealers are set aside, retail sales rose 1% last month, the government reported Tuesday. That gives a better idea of retail-sales trends.

Retail sales are a big part of consumer spending and offer clues on the strength of the U.S. economy.

Americans are still buying lots of stuff, but they are also paying higher prices. And soaring inflation could get them to forego some purchases and stop buying quite as much.

After adjusting for a 0.3% in inflation in April, retail sales rose 0.6% last month.

Big picture: High inflation is a big worry for the U.S. economy.

Rising prices could force consumers to reduce how many goods and services they purchase and slow the economy. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic activity.

The Federal Reserve, for its part, is moving to jack up interest rate to try to tame inflation. That could also slow the economy.

For now Americans are still spending enough to keep the economy growing, but the future is looking more uncertain.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.08%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-0.39%

were set to open higher in Tuesday trades.

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