US May sales inch up, jobless claims fall


US jobless claims fell last week and retail sales inched up in May as strong furniture and appliance sales were offset by lower gasoline receipts, government data said today.

The data were viewed as mildly positive at a time when analysts and Federal Reserve officials are hoping to see a bounce in growth after months of sluggishness.

The Commerce Department reported retail sales inched up 0.1 per cent last month to $308.78 billion after a 0.3 per cent drop in April. Excluding automobiles, sales also rose 0.1 per cent to $234.29 billion following a 0.9 per cent decline in the prior month.

The Labor Department said the number of Americans lining up to claim unemployment benefits fell in the latest week in an indication job losses may be slowing.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell 17,000 to 430,000 in the June 7th week, the department said. Analysts were expecting claims of 424,000.