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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Weak retail figures hit US shares
Shoppers in the US
Consumers are feeling the pinch of higher fuel prices
Weak retail sales figures hit US stocks on Thursday, with the three main share indexes seeing their biggest one-day declines since January.

After the Commerce Department said sales rose by just 0.5% in April, the Dow Jones fell from its near six-year high, dropping 142 points to 11,501.

With ongoing high fuel bills forcing US households to rein in spending, the Nasdaq lost 48 points to 2,273.

The Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates also hit the markets.

On Wednesday it increased rates for the 16th time in a row to 5%, a new five-year high.

Negative impact

Not counting petrol (gasoline), retail sales rose by just 0.1% during April, down from 0.7% in March, the Commerce Department said.

We've been living in a bit of a fantasy world here, and there's obviously going to be a readjustment from time to time...
Analyst Cummins Catherwood

"We are starting to see the negative impact on spending of energy prices," said Rick Egelton, an economist at BMO Financial.

"We will probably see a bit of a tapering off of retail sales as we get further into the second quarter."

Fellow analyst, Cummins Catherwood, managing director of Walnut Asset Management, said the share dip was inevitable.

"We've been living in a bit of a fantasy world here, and there's obviously going to be a readjustment from time to time and we're seeing part of that," he said.


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