Just in case you missed it Thursday there was a bit of good economic news to report. New government figures show retail sales jumped in January.
The Commerce Department says retail sales numbers jumped in January by one-percent, marking the biggest increase in more than a year. And the Labor Department says new jobless claims dropped slightly last week, though nearly 5 million Americans continued to draw jobless benefits late last month.
Economists aren't suggesting the economy has turned the corner. In fact, some say the reversal is unlikely to last as businesses slashed inventories in December by the biggest amount in seven years. That could mean further cutbacks in production and more layoffs. Economists say we won't know for several more months if this is a sign consumer spending is beginning to pick-up or just a one time bump.
Still, the January figures were far better than the 0.8 percent decline that economists expected.
The Commerce Department report showed strong increases in sales of automobiles and in general merchandise stores.
Nonstore retailers, such as Internet and mail-order shopping, rose 2.7 percent in January, while sales of food and beverages rose 2.1 percent. Health and personal care stores registered flat sales.