Underlining the caution expressed by Alan Greenspan [WAMN: 08-Mar-02] concerning the pace of America’s economic recovery, new Commerce Department figures show that retail sales grew by just 0.3% in February from the month before, well below analysts’ forecasts of up to 0.9%.

However, last month was better than January, revised figures for which show a 0.3% fall. This decline was blamed on the end of zero-percent financing deals in the auto sector, which accounts for 25% of the total retail sales figure.

Growth for the first three months of the year is now forecast at 2%, well down on the 6% recorded for the last quarter of 2001.

On a more positive note, however, the National Bureau of Economic Research – the official arbiter of when recessions start and end – announced Wednesday that reports “indicate that the decline in activity that began last year may be coming to an end.”

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff