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Retail sales drop unexpectedly in January

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, and another gauge of consumer spending also slipped.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month, led by a drop in automobile sales. Sales fell by a revised 0.1 percent in December.

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Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would be unchanged in January after rising by a previously reported 0.2 percent in December.

Stripping out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, so-called core sales fell 0.3 percent after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3 percent in December. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Economists had expected this category to advance 0.2 percent in January.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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