U.S. retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.4% in October, led by a rebound in auto sales, the Commerce Department estimated Monday. Excluding the 7.4% increase in auto sales, retail sales rose 0.2% in October. Auto sales had plunged 14.3% in September after the expiration of the government's cash-for-clunkers program.
The 1.4% gain in October was higher than the 1% gain forecast by economists, but a large downward revision to September's sales offset the upside surprise. Economists were expecting sales excluding autos to rise 0.3%. October sales were mixed. Sales of durable goods, other than autos, were weak. Sales at the mall stores were generally healthier.