US futures slip on modest retail spending gain

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures fell with the government reporting Tuesday that retail spending rose 0.5 percent between November and December, a critical period for stores.

Car companies, which have had their best year since 2007, led the way. According to the Commerce Department, sales of autos and auto parts jumped 1.6 percent.

Dow Jones industrial futures slid 48 points to 13,385. The broader S&P futures gave up 7.10 points to 1,457.20. Nasdaq futures fell 9 points to 2,719.75

Also on Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that falling food and gas prices pushed down wholesale prices last month. It was the third consecutive monthly decline, showing how tame inflation has become.

The producer price index slipped 0.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said. That follows a decline of 0.8 percent in November.

If prices are not increasing, people have more money to spend, which would help the economy recover. If inflation began to tick higher, the Federal Reserve would also be forced to consider lifting interest rates from historic lows, and that could cool any economic recovery.

The central bank has vowed to keep short-term interest rates close to zero until unemployment falls to at least 6.5 percent. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.8 percent.

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