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Retail sales dipped in August -- the first decline in five months.

According to the Commerce Department, sales were off 0.3% last month at $456.3 billion. As it released the report for last month, the government revised its July figures to show a sales gain of 0.1%. The previous months sales had been reported as showing virtually no change.

On a year-over-year basis, sales in August were up 1.9%.

The biggest positive influences came from food services & drinking places (+0.9%) and clothing & clothing accessories stores (+0.7%). Sales declines were posted by miscellaneous store retailers (-2.4%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-1.4%), building material, garden equipment & supplies dealers (-1.4%), and gas stations (-0.8%)

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.


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Initial jobless claims

A small uptick last week in initial jobless claims.

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled 260,000 in the week ending September 10 -- an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

It's now 80 weeks in a row that the claims level has stayed below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, considered a better gauge of the labor market due to its relative lack of volatility, dipped by 500 to 260,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

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