U.S. Retail Sales Rose for 2nd Month

(AP) -

U.S. retail sales rose at a solid pace last month, as bullish consumers bought more cars, furniture and clothes.

The Commerce Department says retail sales increased 0.2 percent in October, after a healthy 1.9 percent gain in the previous month. September’s gain was the largest in 2½ years and was driven by big increases in auto and gas sales in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Americans are spending more freely as confidence in the economy has jumped in the past year and the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. Excluding gas station sales, which fell sharply as prices dropped, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month.

Gains were widespread, as consumers spent more at electronics, grocery, clothing and sporting goods stores.