Retail Sales Rise, at Slower Pace: The Commerce Department reported that sales rose in January by a modest 0.2% for the second straight month. While they have not fallen since last April, the growth rate has eased dramatically. Economists said mounting debt and higher interest rates for home and credit card loans are prompting Americans to curtail buying. The January sales increase of 0.2% was smaller than analysts predicted and--a further sign of slowing--spending for big-ticket durable goods declined for the second month straight. Economists said if the pattern continues, the Federal Reserve probably will be near the end of its cycle of pushing up interest rates to deter inflation.