Gasoline pushes up US retail sales, inflation in August
* Gasoline, autos account for most of the increase
* Consumer prices up 0.6 pct, largest gain since June 2009
* Core CPI edges up 0.1 percent for second straight month
* Industrial production declines in August
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – U.S. retail sales rose by the most in six months in August, boosted by automobiles and high gasoline prices, but the underlying tone pointed to modest economic growth in the third quarter.
Other data on Friday showed a surge in gasoline contributed to consumer prices posting their largest gain in three years last month. Gasoline prices are taking a bite out of consumers’ spending power.
Retail sales increased 0.9 percent, the largest increase since February, the Commerce Department said on Friday, after a 0.6 percent rise in July.
Gasoline and automobile sales accounted for the bulk of the rise in sales last month and details of the report pointed to an only modest increase in consumer spending this quarter after sluggish demand restricted the economy to a 1.7 percent annual growth pace in the April-June period.
That suggests third-quarter economic growth would still be insufficient to cut into high unemployment, which on Thursday prompted the Federal Reserve to launch a third round of bond purchases and push its pledge to hold interest rates near zero through at least mid-2015 from late 2014.