U.S. retail sales rose in April, as households bought cars, building materials and other goods.
Monday’s report from the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose one-tenth of a percent from the previous month.
Outside the volatile areas, like fuel and cars, spending in the overall economy jumped five-tenths of a percent.
Economists and investors track retail sales closely because consumer demand drives about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
The report surprised many economists who had predicted that retail sales would decline as the effect of tax increases and government spending cuts worked their way through the economy.