U.S. retail sales and inflation rose
in January, strengthening the case for the central bank to raise
Retail sales advanced four-tenths of a percent for the month. PNC Bank
economists Gush Faucher says the gain is partly due to an improving
labor market with "more jobs and rising wages" as workers become more
Economists watch retail sales because consumer demand drives most U.S.
A separate report shows U.S. consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in
nearly four years, with costs gaining six-tenths of a percent in January
and 2.5 percent in the past year.
The Federal Reserve works to keep prices rising at a modest two percent
annual rate, and can raise interest rates to lower inflation.
comments to congressional committees this week, Federal Reserve Bank
Chair Janet Yellen made it clear officials are considering a series of
rate hikes this year, but did not say exactly when they would make those
The Fed's next meeting to consider interest rate policy is scheduled for
The U.S. central bank slashed interest rates to nearly zero during the
recession in a bid to boost economic growth, but most economists say the
recovering U.S. economy no longer needs such support. Yellen said
Tuesday that waiting too long to raise rates could allow inflation to
spike and force the Fed to boost rates sharply which could disrupt the