In February, US retail sales picked up by 1.1% M/M, following an 0.2% M/M increase in January. The consensus was looking for a more moderate increase by 0.5% M/M. The breakdown shows that strength was led by gasoline station sales (5.0% M/M) and also sales of motor vehicles & parts (1.1% M/M) increased significantly in February. Excluding both autos & gas, retail sales increased by 0.4% M/M, twice as much as expected. Within the core reading, sales of building materials (1.1% M/M), miscellaneous (1.8% M/M), food & beverages (0.8% M/M), general merchandise (0.5% M/M), clothing (0.2% M/M) and non-store retailing (1.6% M/M) increased in February. Sales of furniture (-1.6% M/M), sporting goods (-0.9% M/M), eating & drinking (-0.7% M/M), electronics (-0.2% M/M) and sales at departments stores (-1.0% M/M) dropped during the month. Also the control group performed well, showing an increase by 0.4% M/M, while the previous figure was upwardly revised from 0.1% M/M to 0.3% M/M. After a poor start of the year, retail sales picked up in February, which is remarkable after the tax increases which kicked in at the start of the new year. Especially the control group was holding up decently, boding well for the US first quarter GDP data.