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Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 8:36 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 8:36 AM
WASHINGTON — Americans pulled back on buying cars, furniture and other goods in January, pushing retail sales down by 0.3 percent, the biggest decline in 11 months.
The January decline, following no change in December, was the largest setback since a 0.5 percent fall in February of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
The slowdown comes after a three-month stretch of sizzling consumer activity, from September through November, which had fueled the most robust holiday sales in a decade.
Economists were not too concerned, saying they continue to expect solid gains in coming months, as long as the recent stock market turmoil does not undermine consumer confidence.
"Some of the weakness in January retail sales could be linked to the unusually high number of reported flu cases last month but, on balance, it was probably inevitable that sales would start to slow after their recent strength," said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist for Capital Economics.
"With jobs growth still strong, consumer confidence at an unusually high level and the recent tax cuts providing a one-off boost to disposable incomes this month, the near-term prospects for consumer spending remain fairly bright," Hunter said.
Economists are forecasting that the overall economy will expand at a solid 3 percent rate in the current quarter.
Auto sales fell 1.3 percent in January, the biggest monthly drop since August, and came on the heels of a smaller 0.1 percent setback in December.
But the weakness was not confined to the auto sector. Excluding autos, retail sales would have been flat in January and a number of key sectors from furniture to building supplies suffered declines.
Department store sales rose a solid 0.8 percent while a broader category that includes big box retail stores such as Walmart, rose a smaller 0.2 percent.
The booming internet shopping sector was flat in January, but is still 10.2 percent higher than a year ago.
Sales at gasoline service stations rose 1.6 percent, but that's partly due to rising pump prices.
The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a solid 2.6 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year. That followed two quarters in which growth had topped 3 percent. That was a significant improvement from modest annual growth rates of around 2 percent the U.S. experienced during the economic recovery, now in its ninth year.
President Donald Trump insists that his economic program, which includes a $1.5 trillion tax cut, deregulation and increased infrastructure spending, will boost economic growth to 3 percent or better. The administration on Monday unveiled a $4.4 trillion budget for next year which shows that the tax cuts and higher government spending will result in $7 trillion in deficits over the next decade.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 1:03 PM
OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska man has been arrested for the 18th time for indecent exposure, authorities said.
The latest incident took place Thursday at an Omaha food court, KETV reported.
Witnesses told KETV that Shawn Noble, 39, was yelling obscenities when he emerged from the food court restroom completely naked. When the property manager ordered him back into the bathroom to put on his clothes, he lunged at her, witnesses said.
Food court employees were able to barricade Noble inside the restroom until police arrived, KETV reported. Noble was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct and taken to the Douglas County Jail.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:47 PM
WELLINGTON, Fla. — A Florida woman was arrested on Thursday after deputies said she drove intoxicated with a child sitting above an open case of beer tucked in the back seat.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Miami resident Stephanie Roque, 30, about 11 a.m. after she made a complete stop in her SUV in the center of a lane, the Palm Beach Post reported. The deputy said that Roque’s drivers license was suspended, and noticed she had a “strong smell of alcohol,” the arrest report states.
Roque told the deputy that she “just got out of rehab today for a drinking problem,” according to the report. The deputy found a child in the backseat of the car with an open 12-pack of beer sitting underneath the child’s feet, the Palm Beach Post reported. Only nine of the 12 beers were in the case, the report states.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 11:57 AM
FREDERICK, Md. — A Maryland woman says there was a live surprise in a package of fish she purchased at Costco last week.
Emily Rhoades Randolph said she purchased a package of fresh cod on Feb. 9 at Costco. On Monday, she recorded video of what appears to be a worm wriggling around a corner of the sealed package and posted it on her Facebook page on Wednesday. The sell-by date on the package is the same day she recorded the video, according to Randolph.
Randolph said in the Facebook post that when she returned the contaminated fish to Costco, the clerk at the seafood counter commented that another customer had returned salmon with worms in it. Randolph said she did not receive an apology for the incident.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:23 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, N.Y. — The last thing Robert Crain remembered was visiting the emergency room to have his nagging cough checked out.
That was on Oct. 3, 2017. Sixty-one days later, the 47-year-old woke from a medically induced coma. And on Feb. 14, 2018, he was discharged from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York.
"For me, it just seemed like I woke up from a nap,'' Crain told Syracuse.com. "Then I realized I missed Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that time with my family."
Crain’s lungs and kidneys had shut down in October. He lost 50 pounds during his time in the hospital and now must use a cane to walk, Syracuse.com reported.
“It was awful,” said Crain’s wife of 10 years, Marcela Crain. “My brain heard them say he wasn't doing well and wasn't improving, but my heart wouldn't accept it. I went to the chapel every day at the hospital and prayed, and my daughter and I prayed every night.”
Robert Crain was kept alive by a heart/lung bypass machine, spending more time on it than any other patient in the hospital’s history, Syracuse.com reported.
Crain said he remembered nothing from Oct. 3 until Jan. 8. His doctors pulled him out of his coma gradually. When he came to, Crain said he was “stunned” when a nurse told him what day it was, Syracuse.com reported.
Robert Crain’s recovery and discharge from the hospital was a banner day for his wife and their 8-year-old daughter, Isabella.
"This is the most amazing, special day,'' Marcela Crain said. “Never give up hope. I always believed he would come back to me."
Marcela Crain said the family put Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on hold, refusing to celebrate it without Robert. She told Syracuse.com the family would celebrate all three holidays into a single day when he is stronger.