Retail Sales Post 7th Straight Gain

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One sector of the economy showed some mild improvement in January.

The Commerce Department is hailing the fact that retail spending increased for the seventh month in a row. Spending also increased.03 percent to $318.6 billion, the department reported Tuesday.

Consumers spent more of their money at department stores, electronics stores, and auto dealerships. They spent less on clothes and eating out while paying more at the gas pump due to higher prices.

The harsh winter had a negative effect on the economy overall with snowstorms keeping many shoppers at home.

Stuart Hoffman, an economist at PNC Financial, said harsh weather played a role in limiting the sales gains. But he said he remained optimistic that sales will continue to rise and fuel the economy in the coming months.

"There is a huge amount of pent-up demand waiting to be unleashed," Hoffman said. "The only missing ingredient for a sustained consumer rally is job creation."

A separate report Tuesday pointed to further strength in manufacturing, a consistently strong sector in recent months. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey showed that conditions for New York manufacturers are improving. The survey's index of business conditions rose to an eight-month high.

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