U.S. retail sales registered a bigger-than-expected drop in May as record gasoline and food prices prompt households to cut back spending. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales fell 0.3% last month, down sharply from April's downwardly revised 0.7% increase. May's print also marked the first decline in five months.
The National Federation of Independent Business Optimism Index fell in May to 93.1, marking the fifth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased four points to a net negative 54%, the lowest level recorded in the 48-year-old survey. Expectations for better business conditions have deteriorated every month since January. Twenty-eight percent of owners reported inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business. The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased two points to a net 72%.
All eyes will be on the Federal Reserve’s key interest rate decision later today. The markets are expecting a .50% rate hike, but will be more focused on what the Fed chairman says about future rates hikes.