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WASHINGTON: US retail sales shot up in June amid the ongoing surge in prices, according to new data Friday that spelled more bad news for the Federal Reserve as it struggles to rein in rampant inflation.

The data showed that after pausing in May, American consumers last month were still eating out and buying furniture and cars, even amid the fastest inflation in more than four decades.

That poses a challenge for the US central bank, which has been hoping to see more decisive signs that its aggressive interest rate hikes were starting to take the economy off the boil and tamp down high prices.

Increased costs for gas, food and housing have squeezed American families and heaped pressure on President Joe Biden, whose approval ratings have taken a battering from the relentless rise in prices and fears of recession.

While inflation was already picking up speed last year as the world’s largest economy emerged from the pandemic and demand outstripped supply, the price surge worsened in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has led to increased costs for energy and food.

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