U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in October as purchases of motor vehicles and building materials surged, likely driven by rebuilding efforts in areas devastated by Hurricane Florence.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales increased 0.8 percent last month also as households bought electronics and appliances. Data for September was revised down to show retail sales slipping 0.1 percent instead of nudging up 0.1 percent as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.5 percent in October. Retail sales in October rose 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.3 percent last month. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
Data for September was revised lower to show core retail sales rising 0.3 percent instead of gaining 0.5 percent as previously reported.
A strong labor market, characterized by a 3.7 percent unemployment rate, is underpinning consumer spending. The lowest unemployment rate in nearly 49 years is boosting wages, with annual wage growth recording its biggest increase in 9-1/2 years in October.