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US Retail Sales Rise More Slowly

Shoppers look over the clothes at the Vermont Trading Company in Montpelier, Vermont, April 2013.
U.S. retail sales rose in June, but a bit more slowly than in the prior month.

Economists watch retail sales closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.

Monday's Commerce Department reports says retail sales rose four-tenths of a percent in June, helped by a surge in auto sales.

Officials at the U.S. central bank are watching this and other economic data as they decide how soon to cut back efforts to stimulate the economy.

Part of that program is purchasing $85 billion worth of securities each month, which is intended to push down long-term interest rates, making it easier for businesses and households to purchase equipment, automobiles and other items.

Federal Reserve officials have said they will reduce the stimulus when economic data make it clear it is no longer needed.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.