Retail sales rose more than forecast in December as consumers enticed by year-end discounting stepped up holiday gift buying to give the worldâ€™s biggest economy a lift at the end of 2013. Purchases rose 0.2 percent after a 0.4 percent advance in November that was smaller than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today. The median forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent gain. Excluding cars, demand jumped by the most in almost a year. Holiday-season deals probably helped retailers overcome the coldest December in four years. At the same time, improving confidence due to falling joblessness and further gains in the housing market likely will support household spending.The modest gains in retail sales should not spur a rush to buy retail stocks but the news helps to reassure investors that the shorter-than-usual holiday selling season in 2013 due to Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28 did not hurt sales too much.
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