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U.S. retail sales unexpectedly slipped in April, due to a slump in autos, a federal government report showed Wednesday. 

Retail sales slipped by 0.2% from March levels, the Census Bureau said in a press release. Economists had projected an increase of 0.2%.

Motor vehicles and parts, a major swing factor in the monthly data, fell by 1.1%, according to the report. The prior month those sales had jumped by 3.2%. 

The government also noted a 1.1% drop in sales by electronics and appliance stores.

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Non-store retailers, which includes internet shopping, saw a 0.2% decrease in sales.

That category had been trending up at roughly 1% per month, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for the forecasting firm Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"These data mean that the second quarter started poorly," Shepherdson wrote in a note to clients.