U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in January, recording their biggest drop in nearly a year, as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and building materials.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales climbing 0.2 percent in January. Retail sales in January rose 3.6 percent from a year ago.
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales were unchanged last month after a downwardly revised 0.2 percent drop in December. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.