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April Retail Sales Surprise to the Upside

Tickers in this article: JCP KSS M WMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. food and retail sales rose 0.1% in April compared to March, to $419 billion, according to the latest Commerce Department figures released on Monday.

Economists were expecting sales for the retail sector to fall 0.3% for the month of March, according to Thomson Reuters.

Retail sales were 3.7% above April 2012 figures, the data said.

Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.1% from the month before, in line with analysts' expectations.

Total sales for the period of February through April 2013 were up 3.7% from the same period a year ago. The Commerce Department revised March 2013 retail sales slightly lower to -0.5% from -0.4%.

Retail trade sales were virtually unchanged from March, yet 3.6% above last year. Sales at non-store retailers rose 15.4% from April 2012, while auto and other motor vehicle dealers rose 8.8% from the year-earlier period.

First-quarter retail earnings get started in earnest this week with Macys , JC Penney , Kohl's and Wal-Mart Stores reporting later in the week.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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