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March Retail Sales Up 0.2%

New York U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rose 0.2% in March, pushed up by a jump in gasoline sales, a government report released on Monday showed.

Sales at gasoline stations rose 1.1%, the Department of Commerce said. Excluding gasoline sales, retail sales were flat last month.

Gasoline prices hit records in March and have continued to rise since then, according to government data.

Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting retail sales to be unchanged from the previous month.

Food and beverage-store sales rose 0.4% reflecting price rises for commodities. Excluding automobiles, retail sales rose 0.1%, in line with expectations. Building materials and supplies sales slid 1.6%, while furniture and appliance-store sales were also down.

Clothing store and general-merchandise stores also saw declines in sales.

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