Consumer companies fell as traders digested a stronger-than-anticipated tally of retail sales.

Investors were initially reassured by the robust rate of consumer spending, but the data also triggered major gains in Treasury yields, stirring concerns about Federal Reserve policy changes and the outlook for mortgage rates.

Retail sales rose 0.7% in March, significantly outpacing economists' anticipation of a 0.3% increase, according to Commerce Department data. "The March retail report is unequivocally strong," said economists at brokerage Bank of America Global Research. The economists said a promotional event at one national retail outlet and the increase in fuel spending for "'bad reasons,' namely higher gas prices" were major factors.

"But many other categories also showed substantial gains in March," the Bank of America economists noted. "We do not think the robustness of the March data can be explained away."

Write to Rob Curran at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-15-24 1744ET