U.S. retail sales edged up in July despite a drop in auto sales. A category of purchases that excludes the most volatile areas rose by the most in seven months, a sign that consumer spending could boost economic growth in coming months.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales increased 0.2 percent in July from June. Sales had risen 0.6 percent in June from May on a surge in auto sales.
Core retail sales, which exclude the volatile auto, gas and building supply categories, rose 0.5 percent in July. It was the biggest such gain since a similar increase in December.
Retail sales are closely watched because theyre the governments first report each month on consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Tuesdays report is consistent with a decent acceleration in consumer spending in the current July-September quarter.
Agriculture forum to feature Stutzman
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, will take part in an agriculture forum from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Kendallville Public Library.
A LaGrange County farm and soybean farmer, Stutzman sponsored proposals that led to the House stripping food stamps from the five-year farm bill in July. He also is a proponent of replacing direct government payments to farmers with expanded crop insurance programs, a provision in both the House and Senate farm bills.
Saturdays forum will be in Meeting Rooms A and B of the library, 221 S. Park Ave.
Average debt dips for credit card borrowers
Americans remain stingy about carrying credit card balances and are making more of an effort to make timely payments, trends that have helped whittle the rate of late payments on credit cards down to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.
The rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue fell in the second quarter to 0.57 percent. Thats the lowest level since 1994, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.
The April-June card delinquency rate declined from 0.63 percent in the same period last year, and also was down from 0.69 percent in the first three months of the year.
The latest late-payment rate is the second-lowest recorded by TransUnion since the second quarter of 1994, when the rate was 0.56 percent, and its running ahead of the historical average of 1.03 percent. The firms records go back to 1992.
Business stockpiles unchanged in June
U.S. businesses left stockpiles unchanged in June while sales rose modestly, an encouraging sign.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that business stockpiles were flat in June compared with May. Inventories had fallen 0.1 percent in May. Sales rose 0.2 percent in June after a solid 1.1 percent increase in May.
The stagnant level for stockpiles could be setting the stage for inventory rebuilding in coming months. That would support increased factory production and overall economic growth in the second half of this year.
Business stockpiles in June stood at a seasonally adjusted $1.66 trillion, 3.5 percent higher than a year ago. Inventories at the manufacturing and retail levels both rose 0.1 percent. Stockpiles at the wholesale level fell 0.2 percent, the third straight decline.