FINANCE

July retail sales rose more than forecast

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Fueled by strength from department stores, electronics and the automobile sector, retail sales advanced 0.8% in July, the first gain in four months, according to a report released Tuesday by the Commerce Dept.

The bigger-than-expected increase followed a 0.7% decline in June that was weaker than first reported. Bloomberg forecast a 0.3% rise in July. The results have buoyed feelings overall that the economy may be improving, albeit at a moderate pace.

“We’re looking for consumption to pick up,” Credit Agreicole CIB chief economist Michael Carey told Bloomberg. “There was improved consumer confidence in July plus job gains that were a little better than expected, which is certainly constructive for the household outlook.”

Retail sales, which climbed the most since February, followed a quarter in which household spending grew at the slowest pace in a year. Consumer purchases, about 70% of the economy, increased at a 1.5% annual rate from April to June, according to the Commerce Dept.

All 13 major retail categories showed a gain last month, led by a 0.8% jump at auto dealers, a 0.6% increase at department stores that was the most since September, and a 0.9% rise at electronics and appliance outlets.

Spending increased 0.8% at clothing stores and 0.7% at general merchandise stores. Health and personal care sales jumped 1.1%, the most since May 2011.

Industry data also showed that same-store sales at the more than 20 retailers tracked by Retail Metrics Inc. gained 4.4% in July, almost four times analysts’ estimates, after a 0.3% rise in June.

Sales excluding automobiles and service stations advanced 0.9%, the most since January.

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FINANCE

Dick’s Sporting Goods profit slips in Q2, on track to open 38 stores in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Pittsburgh — Dick’s Sporting Goods reported Tuesday that net income for the quarter ended July 28 slid to $53.7 million, from $73.8 million in the same quarter a year ago. The sporting goods retailer blamed the lackluster profit performance partly on weakness from newly acquired JJB Sports and adverse weather in the first quarter.

Sales climbed 10% to $1.4 billion, meeting Wall Street expectations. Same-store sales rose 3.8%, consisting of a 2.9% increase at Dick’s stores, a 4.4% rise at Golf Galaxy, and a 34.6% increase in its e-commerce business.

“We are on track to post strong full-year performance for 2012,” said Edward Stack, Dick’s Sporting Goods chairman and CEO. The retailer raised its full-year profit guidance, and said it is on track to open 21 new Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in the third quarter and a total of 38 Dick’s stores for the year.

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FINANCE

Wal-Mart gains approval to proceed with China e-commerce expansion

BY Staff Writer

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. indicated Tuesday it has received the OK from Chinese regulators to move forward with its majority stake in e-commerce company Yihaodian.

According to a report by Wall Street Journal, which cited a Wal-Mart spokesperson in Beijing, the approval will allow Wal-Mart to expand its online presence in China. Under the deal, Wal-Mart will increase its stake in Yihaodian from 18% to 51%.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

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