Biz Brief: May Retail Sales Disappoint, Market Slumps

Today's disappointing retail sales for May are the latest blow to the economy, which is looking like a boxer wobbly from taking one too many punches to the head. U.S. retail sales fell 1.2% from the previous month to $362.5 billion in May. Economists, optimistic about an economic recovery, were predicting an increase. The weakness was across the board, with retail trade sales falling 1.4% from April 2010, but rising 7.4% above last year. Gasoline stations, nonstore retailers, hardware and department stores also dropped.

Sales excluding autos fell 1.1%, raising fears about a possible double-dip recession, given the dominance of consumer spending in economic activity. It was the first retail sales drop in eight months. Investors aren't happy: The major stock market indexes are indicated lower.

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