U.S. consumers bounced back in March and bought more cars, furniture and appliances after three months of declining retail sales.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.6 percent last month, the largest increase since November. Auto sales jumped 2 percent, the most in six months.
Retail sales slipped in the first two months of the year as consumers pulled back after heavy spending during the winter holidays. Last month's figures suggest Americans are returning to more free-spending ways. Economists predict that healthy consumer confidence, steady job gains and the impact of tax cuts will fuel solid spending growth in the months ahead.
Sales rose at grocery stores, restaurants and bars, and drug stores. They fell at home and garden stores, clothing shops and sporting goods stores.