U.S. retail sales and inflation rose in January, strengthening the case for the central bank to raise interest rates.
Retail sales advanced four-tenths of a percent for the month. PNC Bank economists Gush Faucher says the gain is partly due to an improving labor market with "more jobs and rising wages" as workers become scarce.
Economists watch retail sales because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.
A separate report shows U.S. consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly four years, with costs gaining six-tenths of a percent in January and 2.5 percent in the past year.
The Federal Reserve works to keep prices rising at a modest two percent annual rate, and can raise interest rates to lower inflation.