Sales drop in second half

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- Retail sales fell in June for the second straight month, more evidence that the recovery will slow in the second half of the year.

Spending on retail goods dropped 0.5 percent in June, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That followed a 1.1 percent fall in May. Excluding autos, spending was down 0.1 percent in June.

Pulling down the overall June figures was a drop in auto sales and declining gas prices. When taking those out, sales would have risen 0.1 percent for the month.

Separately, the Commerce Department said that business inventories rose 0.1 percent in May. But sales dropped 0.9 percent, the first decline since March 2009.

Americans are spending less and that could threaten the pace of the recovery. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. But consumers have held back because of high unemployment and other signs that have dampened their confidence, such as the volatile stock market and a struggling housing market.

Nations pledge climate aid

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- A pledge by rich nations in Copenhagen to provide as much as $100 billion a year of climate-related aid to developing countries by 2020 may depend in part on the generosity of private donors and other non-governmental sources.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that his panel of advisers -- seeking ways to fulfill a U.N. climate summit's pledge in the Danish capital last December -- was considering private sources to deliver some of the aid promised to help developing countries deal with rising sea levels, drought and other effects of rising temperatures.

The panel chaired by prime ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway have been meeting this week to devise ways to set up a $30 billion annual fund by 2012 that would increase to $100 billion a year by 2020.

The panel also includes billionaire George Soros, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, the president of Guyana and ministers from Britain, France, Mexico, Singapore and South Africa.

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