Why You Should Blow Off the Retail Sales Report -- Yet Again

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- So how did that happen?

Retail sales in June climbed just 0.2% in June, the Census Bureau said today, missing just about every forecast and raising a flag about the stock market's recent advances, while underscoring the Federal Reserve's reticence about raising interest rates too early in a long-delayed recovery. But the report has so many oddities that it's likely to get revised upward when the Census reports preliminary July data next month.

The biggest piece of weird news in the report is that sales at auto and parts dealers declined by 0.3% -- not at all the expectation after auto makers had reported strong June sales earlier in the month.

The next weirdest is that sales at gasoline stations rose only 0.3%, though gas prices are relatively high. Bullish economist Joel Naroff, whose firm consults for regional banks and other clients, had expected those two categories to drive a gain of 1% or more.

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The weakness was evident in a long list of cyclical sectors where you would look for signs of an accelerating expansion.

Home-improvement store sales dropped a reported 1%, and furniture sales dipped 0.1%. Neither is a great sign for the housing and remodeling market, whose continued recovery is important to the bull case for stocks now.

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