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U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in August amid weak purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods, pointing to cooling domestic demand that further diminishes expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate increase next week.The Commerce Department said retail sales declined 0.3 percent after edging up 0.1 percent in July.Economists had forecast overall retail sales slipping 0.1 percent and core sales climbing 0.3 percent last month.The weak report could encourage the Fed to keep interest rates unchanged at its Sept. 20-21 policy meeting. The Fed could still raise interest rates as inflation pressures are gradually firming.The decline in retail sales last month was led by a 0.9 percent fall in receipts at auto dealerships.The Atlanta Fed is currently forecasting the economy growing at a 3.3 percent rate in the third quarter.Adding to the raft of weak August reports, data from the Fed showed manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent in August, reversing July's increase.
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