U.S. retail sales
fall in March
Sales at U.S. retailers fell in March from February, indicating that higher taxes and weak hiring probably made some consumers more cautious about spending. Sales declined a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. That followed a 1 percent gain in February and a 0.1 percent decline in January.
drop in March
A measure of wholesale prices fell in last month by the largest amount in 10 months, reflecting a big drop in gasoline prices. The producer price index fell 0.6 percent in March, compared with February, according to the Labor Department. In February, wholesale prices had jumped 0.7 percent.
a bit in February
U.S. companies restocked their shelves at a much slower pace in February than January, a sign they expected consumer and business spending to weaken. Business stockpiles increased only 0.1 percent in February, the smallest gain since June and down from a revised 0.9 percent increase in January, the Commerce Department said.
The Obama administration again declined to label China a currency manipulator, but said China's currency remains significantly undervalued. A Treasury Department report noted that China has allowed the renminbi to rise in value against the dollar since June 2010, but said more appreciation is needed.
Housing gains lag
in poorer areas
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says housing remains depressed in many low-income neighborhoods, even as the overall home market is making gains. Bernanke urged a broad approach to the problem that seeks to improve housing for lower-income Americans. He said solutions must be tailored to whether a neighborhood is urban, suburban or rural.
bagged coffee prices
Starbucks is cutting the suggested retail price of its bagged coffee sold in supermarkets, following similar moves by competitors. The Seattle-based chain says 12-ounce bags of its whole and ground coffee will be $8.99, down from $9.99. The new prices go into effect May 10. The list price is just a suggestion, and retailers are free to charge their own prices, so customers may not see a change. But retailers will pay a lower price, giving them more wiggle room to pass on the savings to shoppers.