American retail sales beat forecasts during March as the dollar shored up, according to figures from the US government's Commerce Department.

This afternoon the dollar stood at 1.7518 to the pound and was at 1.2096 against the euro.

The agency said that the purchases increased by 0.6 per cent during March, after a fall of 0.8 in the month before. Discounting sales of vehicles, retail business rose by 0.4 per cent, compared to a decline of 0.3 per cent in February.

Analysts claim that the figures are evidence of a rebound in the US economy.

Michael Gregory, a senior economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns in Toronto, told Bloomberg: "Consumer spending is going to hang in stronger this quarter than a lot of people thought because of job and wage growth. That's going to result in good performance for the U.S. economy."

The results could have a positive effect on the slumping US dollar, although some analysts claim the currency could be affected by the Federal Reserve's decision to hold off further interest rate rises.

"We remain of the view that an approaching end to the Fed tightening cycle will open up the dollar to renewed pressure from structural concerns in the coming weeks," UBS analyst Daniel Katzive told AFX.