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Automakers may not have noticed it, but shoppers were out in force in January, despite severe winter weather in many parts of the country.

The government Thursday said retail sales, excluding autos, rose 0.9% last month, surpassing economists' forecast of 0.5%. Overall sales, however, fell 0.3%.

The government figures mirror an overall strong performance from major retailers in January and a weak sales month for the nation's Big Three automakers.

On the labor front, the government said initial jobless claims rose 6,000 in the most recent week to 363,000, which was worse than expected, and the second increase in a row. Still, it's the 19th consecutive week that claims have been below 400,000, the level thought to be the dividing line for growth and expansion in the labor market. The economy created 112,000 jobs in January.

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