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Retail Sales in U.S. Decline After December Revised Down

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U.S. retail sales unexpectedly declined in January and December receipts were revised lower, indicating consumer demand in the first quarter may cool, according to Commerce Department figures released Wednesday.

The decrease in January sales and the downward revision to December were spread throughout the major retail categories. The soft report suggests consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, started the current quarter with less momentum following a 3.8 percent annualized increase in the fourth quarter.