US retail sales down for a second month

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US retail sales fell for a second consecutive month in June, adding to worries about the recovery in the world's largest economy.

Commerce Department figures showed that total sales were down 0.5 per cent, compared with a revised 1.1 per cent decline during May. Analysts, while anticipating weakness, were expecting a more resilient performance, with sales forecast to be down just 0.2 per cent last month.

The fall was blamed on a drop in automotive sales and declining gas prices. Indeed, excluding automotive and gas sales, retail sales were up 0.1 per cent over the month. Core retail sales, which, in addition to automotive and gas sales, also strip out building materials, were up 0.2 per cent over June, compared with a 0.1 per cent decline during May.