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The Department of Commerce said retail sales in the United States increased 0.3% during February from January, and were up 1.5% from a year earlier. The sequential growth number came in slightly ahead of the consensus estimate of 0.2% among economists polled by Thomson Reuters.
The Department of Labor said initial unemployment claims for the week ended March 8 declined by 9,000 to 315,000, which was better than the expected 330,000 new claims. The four-week moving average declined by 6,250 to 330,500.
Goldman Sachs cut its first-quarter GDP estimate for the United States by two-tenths to 1.5%. "Although February retail sales rose a bit more than expected, negative back revisions more than offset the front-month surprise," Chief Economist Jan Hatzius wrote in a note to clients.
The recent pattern of lackluster data out of China continued, with industrial output during January and February was up 8.6% from a year earlier, however, that was the slowest growth rate since April 2009.
The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was down 0.8% to 69.93, with all 24 component stocks ending with declines.