U.S. retail sales fell an unexpected 0.3% in December, signaling restraint by consumers during the holidays as the economy wrestles with high unemployment. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast a 0.5% increase. November sales, however, were adjusted upward to a 1.8% increase from a 1.3% gain.
In a separate report, the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly increased last week by 11,000. But a drop in the four-week moving average to its lowest level since August 2008 showed claims are still trending downward. Total claims lasting more than one week, meanwhile, decreased.