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March retail sales up higher than expected

Washington -- Helped by a rebound in car sales, and do-it-yourselfers who started to fix up their homes as warmer weather settled in, U.S. retail sales picked up at a healthy clip during March, rising by 0.6%, and beating forecasts for a somewhat smaller 0.5%.

Sales in furniture and home furnishings stores climbed by 0.5% for March, while sales at building material and garden supply outlets rose by 1.2%.

And the news out of the Commerce Department gets even better: February retail sales were better than originally reported. The agency had originally reported February sales declined by 1.4%, but has since revised that number to a smaller decline of 0.8%, suggesting that consumer spending is still on track.

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