Sales at U.S. retailers rose a modest 0.2% in August, with consumers spending far less on gasoline but more on new cars and trucks. That matched the forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch. Sales minus autos rose 0.1%, but they were up a healthier 0.4% excluding gasoline, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. A closely watched number known as core retail sales, or the control group, also increased 0.4% in August. Sales in July were revised up a touch to show a 0.7% gain. Over the past 12 months retail sales have risen a lackluster 2.2%, though the year-over-year gain is a solid but not spectacular 4.4% if gasoline is omitted.
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