U.S. retail sales miss expectations, point to slow growth

U.S. retail sales rose less than expected in August even as demand increased for automobiles and other big-ticket items, the latest sign that economic growth slowed in the third quarter, Reuters reports. The Commerce Department said on Friday that retail sales increased 0.2 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles, furniture and electronics and appliances. However, they cut back on clothing, building materials and sporting goods. Retail sales, which account for about 30 percent of consumer spending, were still up for a fifth consecutive month, the article said.

Federal Reserve prepares for change in policy, and in policymakers

Federal Reserve officials must decide next week whether it is time to tap the brakes or better to wait another month or two, The New York Times reports. The decision has to do with whether they intend to cut back on the Federal Reserve's monthly asset purchases by the end of the year. One of the biggest challenges they face, the article said, is convincing markets that the Fed remains committed to its broader effort to stimulate the economy even as it begins to pull back from the most visible component of that campaign - and even though as many as nine of the 12 voting members of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee may be replaced in the next year. Most notably, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is expected to step down at the end of January. The Federal Open Market Committee meets in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Markets steady, waiting on Feds next move, Twitter IPO

Markets are in a holding pattern as investors anticipate the next moves from the U.S. Federal Reserve and wait for more details on Twitter Inc.'s plans for an initial public offering, CNNMoney reports. Talk of Twitter going public came after the closing bell Thursday, accompanied by news the company had made a confidential filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a planned stock offering.