SALES UP: Americans spent 1.1 percent more at retail stores in September, the Commerce Department said Monday. That followed a 1.2 percent increase in August. The gains marked the best two months for sales in two years.
PHONES AND CARS: Sales rose in almost every major category, led by another strong month of auto sales and a jump in electronic sales driven by Apple's new iPhone.
OUTLOOK: Rising retail sales reflect a surge in consumer confidence that could help strengthen growth in the second half of the year. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity.