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US consumer spending up sharply in March

Retail sales lifted 0.8 percent in March, a percentage point increase over February's numbers, but causes still unclear.

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US retail sales rose in nearly every category in March boosting hopes of a speedier-than-expected recovery. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

American consumer spending was up in March, according to Commerce Department figures released Monday, in a sign that points to a speedier recovery in 2012.

Retails sales rose 0.8 percent in March, up by one percent from the month before.

The Associated Press reported that both a healthier job market and warmer weather was likely a catalyst for a strong quarter.

"It's a clear sign that U.S. consumer spending remains strong. On balance I think it's the latest sign here that the economy is outpacing a lot of its major counterparts in recovery," Reuters reported Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, as saying.

Consumer spending contributes up to 70 percent of the economy, which means that an increase may push gross domestic product numbers up which have hovered between 2.5 and 3.0 in recent months.

The report said that building material and garden equipment and supplies sales increased 14.1 percent from the same period the previous year, while American shoppers also bought more home furnishings, clothes but paid more for gas.

Indexes were mixed on Monday afternoon with the Dow Jones industrial average rising more than 125 points while the Nasdaq composite fell 15 points, reported the Associated Press.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/120416/us-consumer-spending-sharply-march