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Holiday gift for retailers; sales up a solid 0.4 percent

U.S. consumers shopped at stores and online outlets at a solid pace in December, closing out a healthy holiday season for retailers.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, after a 0.9 percent surge in November. Retail sales rose 4.2 percent in 2017, the most in three years.

Strong holiday shopping should lift economic growth in the final three months of last year. Americans have been more confident about the economy and are more willing to spend. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

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