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US retail, food services sales rise less than expected in November

Retail and food sales in the U.S. grew less than expected on a monthly basis in November, advance data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed.

Seasonally and calendar-adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales ticked up 0.2% to $527.99 billion in November from an upwardly revised $526.99 billion in October. The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for a 0.5% growth in sales.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 0.6% month over month. Sales at food and beverage stores edged up 0.3%. Sales at gasoline stations increased 0.7%, and nonstore retailers' sales rose 0.8%.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts stores and gasoline stations, monthly sales were unchanged, compared with market estimates of a 0.4% increase.

On an annual basis, retail and food services sales grew 3.3% in November, compared with a 3.2% rise in the prior month.

The underwhelming retail sales report raises questions as to whether consumer spending will remain strong enough to offset the U.S. manufacturing recession and prevent the need for further interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, according to James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.

The Fed kept its benchmark interest rate steady at its last meeting of the year, pausing its run of rate cuts at three consecutive meetings and signaling little hurry to change rates again.