WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - A report released by the Commerce Department on Friday unexpectedly showed a steep drop in U.S. retail sales in the month of December.
The Commerce Department said retail sales tumbled by 1.9 percent in December after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in November.
The sharp pullback surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to come in unchanged compared to the 0.3 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.
Excluding auto sales, retail sales plunged by 2.3 percent in December after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in November.
Economists had expected ex-auto sales to rise by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.3 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.
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