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Store sales post slight increase

By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Store sales rose slightly in March, aided by a surge in furniture and home furnishings, and robust gains in electronics and gasoline sales, the government reported Wednesday.

However, the overall gain was offset by a 1.7% decline in auto purchases in the month.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales rose 0.4% last month.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com on average had forecast an increase of 0.5% for March, compared to a 1% gain in sales the prior month.

Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 0.8% in March, slightly better than expected, compared to a 0.7% increase in ex-auto sales in February.

Economists had expected a 0.7% uptick in the measure, according to Briefing.com.

According to the government report, furniture and home furnishing purchases jumped 3.6% in March. Electronics sales increased 2.1% while sales of clothing rose 0.6%.

Gasoline station sales rose 2.6%, boosted by higher gas prices.

Elsewhere, department store sales slipped 0.2% in the month.

Sales at miscellaneous, such as florists, used merchandise stores, pet and pet supply stores fell 2.1% and slipped 0.3% among online-only merchants. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 21,812.09 -87.80 -0.40%
Nasdaq 6,278.41 -19.07 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,444.04 -8.47 -0.35%
Treasuries 2.17 -0.04 -1.99%
Data as of 7:31pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Advanced Micro Devic... 12.48 0.31 2.55%
Bank of America Corp... 23.76 -0.07 -0.29%
Ford Motor Co 10.71 0.06 0.56%
General Electric Co 24.39 -0.21 -0.85%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 3.89 0.04 1.04%
Data as of 4:01pm ET
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