Belated US December retail sales data (caused by the Federal government shut down) were so bad that I, as well as White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow’s first reaction was to question their validity. The volume of sales fell by 1.2 per cent, one of the biggest monthly declines on record and, if one excludes vehicle sales, they slumped by 1.8 per cent. Only once in the history of this series has a deeper drop been seen and that was in January 2009.
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