|Month over Month||-0.4%||0.2%||1.2%||1.3%|
|Year over Year||2.1%||0.9%||1.0%|
Spending on manufactured goods held up better than expected in January. A 0.2 percent monthly increase followed a slightly stronger revised 1.3 percent rise in December and boosted annual sales growth to 2.1 percent, its fastest pace since March 2011.
Purchases were supported by a 3.2 percent monthly bounce in autos although leather and textiles also expanded a solid 2.0 percent and household goods grew 1.4 percent. Elsewhere the other manufactured goods category saw a 0.2 percent drop and food dipped 0.1 percent. With energy up 0.6 percent despite a 2.1 percent slide in petroleum products, total goods consumption gained 0.6 percent versus December when it increased a hefty 1.6 percent.
With consumer confidence hitting its highest level since May 2012 the chances are that household spending continued to expand this month. If so first quarter GDP growth could come closer than previously seemed likely to the Bank of France's current 0.4 percent forecast.
Consumption of manufactured goods by consumers is an indicator of consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are released separately but also as part of the measure of total goods spending.
This indicator is a measure of retail sales and is unique to France. It measures consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are seasonally and workday adjusted. These adjustments eliminate the fluctuations that are solely due to changes in the number of working days. The data appear to be particularly sensitive to the number of worked Saturdays. With consumer spending a large part of the economy, market players continually monitor spending patterns. Retail sales are a measure of consumer well-being.
The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.
Retail sales not only give you a sense of the big picture, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Perhaps auto sales are especially strong or apparel sales are showing exceptional weakness. These trends from the retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for a company's quarterly or annual report.
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