Pleasant Surprise

Retail's Rebound

Is the new year off to a fresh start? Retail sales at American stores rose 1 percent in January, which may not sound like much, but was unexpected compared to analysts' predictions of a decline. The small jump amounted to the biggest increase in 14 months. Analysts credit post-holiday discounts but don't expect the gain to last. In a separate release this morning, the Labor Department reported that around 5 million Americans are depending on jobless benefits, with over 600,000 new requests for assistance. Investors remain uninspired: the Dow dropped nearly 200 points when the market opened Thursday.