The US released its advanced retail sales for the month of January coming in showing a rise of 0.3% compared to the expected drop of 0.2% and the previous reading of -0.4%. As for the Retail sales excluding automobiles reading for the month of January, it came in at 0.3% higher than the forecasted and prior readings of 0.2% and -0.4% respectively.

The main factors driving retail sales were the boost in demand for cars and gasoline which somewhat shows a positive sign for the economy. The readings came in larger than expected and are considered key indicators to consumer spending. With increased sales, spending also increased. Since consumer spending makes up about 70% of the GDP, and retail sales represents half of consumer spending, maybe we will see picked up growth in the upcoming quarter compared to the slacking growth of 0.6% in the fourth quarter after an impressive 4.9% growth in the third quarter.

Over the past year, retail sales grew 3.9%. However, in the past three months they rose 0.2%. Digging deeper, gasoline station sales grew by 2.0% in January after remaining stable in December. Excluding gasoline, retail sales rose 0.1%. As for Automobile sales, they grew by 0.6% marking the largest gain since September. Excluding Autos however, retail sales rose by 0.3%.

Clothing and electronic retailers seem to have been boosting their sales alongside health and personal care stores. Clothing stores inclined 1.4% in January making it the biggest gain in eight months; while sales at health and personal care stored rose 0.8%, the largest gain since July. Finally, internet and mail order sales rose 0.5% and sales at general merchandise stores increased by 0.1%.

This is the first sign for the year, it seems positive now but will it be able to maintain this image for the rest of the year? Still worries concerning a recession increase but the generous acts by many large names in the U.S. are all attempts to hurry and get the economy out of trouble. Mr. Bernanke's statements to be made tomorrow will definitely help make things clearer and its just what investors might need to hear but till then…enjoy the positive signs as they could be only temporary!