July was a better month for the US consumer, but that was never going to be difficult after three consecutive months of declines. Unfortunately, the underlying trend for retail sales is still relatively subdued, with spending in 2012 barely rising in real terms. Moreover, gasoline prices have been climbing over recent weeks, which will surely crimp sales during the driving season. The US economy is still inching ahead, but it is hardly convincing. The dollar meanwhile has been very mildly encouraged on an otherwise slow day for forex markets.