Stimulus spending boosts U.S. retail sales

Retail sales in the U.S. rose 5.3 percent in January, exceeding economist expectations of a 1.2 percent increase. Excluding automobiles, sales were up 5.9 percent, compared to a forecast of just one percent. Additional stimulus funding approved by Congress a month prior furnished American consumers with cheques for $600, which they used for a wide range of goods. Gains were logged across all major categories, with sales LBM and garden supply dealers spiking by 13.7 percent.