The U.S. Commerce Department revealed that retail spending for the month of May fell by 1.2 percent, pushing U.S. stock market futures lower, though they began to recover as the day moved forward. Traders feared that the weak retail data undercut hopes for economic recovery, since most experts agree that around 70 percent of economic growth is driven by consumer spending.
The data show that the decrease was not spread evenly across sectors – rather, it was driven by a nearly 10 percent plunge in spending on building materials and an almost 2 percent drop in new automotive purchases. Excluding those two categories and the purchase of fuel, spending rose ever so slightly, by 0.1 percent.
Stock futures have been buffeted in the past six months by contradictory signals and sentiments on the strength of the economic recovery. Some pieces of information, like new hiring numbers which include temporary government hires, have become sharply contested political footballs.
Employment is the other big story for stock market futures for that very reason. Over 400,000 jobs were added in May, but the vast majority are temporary positions related to the U.S. Census.
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