American consumers regained their appetite for spending in July. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.3%, a shade stronger than most analysts' forecasts that sales would rebound 0.2%.
Stripping out vehicle sales from the July report, retail sales increased 0.4%.
Wall Street, which was rocked last week by volatile share trading tied to fears about the U.S. mortgage market, follows the retail industry closely because retail sales account for some two thirds of all economic activity.
June's retail sales numbers were revised to reflect a slightly better outlook. The government said it had revised June retail sales to show a decline of 0.7% compared with an initial estimate that sales had slumped 0.9%.
Over the past 12 months, overall retail sales in July are up 3.2% and 4.4% excluding the auto sector.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007