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Americans Rein In Spending

Retail sales rose just 0.1 percent in September as Americans pulled in their spending somewhat on cars and clothing from last month's buying frenzy.

Total retail sales rose last month to a seasonally adjusted $253.4 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was slightly worse than the 0.2 percent increase many analysts were forecasting.

The September increase followed a revised 1.5 percent gain in August, better than the 1.2 percent the government previously estimated.

Retail sales have climbed or held steady most months of this year and were 10.5 percent higher than September of last year.

September's performance may be a sign that the Federal Reserve's two interest rate increases in June and August are beginning to slow consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the total economy. The Fed has boosted short-term interest rates by one-half of a percentage point this summer and long-term rates, including mortgage rates, have risen even more this year.

Last week, the central bank said it wouldn't raise rates for now, but left open the possibility of a third rate increase later this year.

By Jeannine Aversa

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