Retail sales increased 0.5 percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans spent more on autos, electronics and building supplies in October. The fifth straight monthly gain in retail sales suggests the economy maintained solid growth at the start of the fourth quarter.

Retail sales increased 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Healthy auto sales helped. But even without them, sales rose 0.6 percent — the best showing since March.

And when excluding autos and sales at gasoline stations, sales rose 0.7 percent, also the biggest increase since March.

Consumers spent more on electronics, appliances, hardware and building supplies. Sales also rose at grocery stores, bars and restaurants and health care stores.

Sales at department stores and specialty clothing stores fell.

Overall, the data were encouraging. Economists said the sales suggest the economy is growing at roughly the same 2.5 percent annual pace as the July-September quarter.

Separately, the government said companies paid less for wholesale goods last month for the first time since June. Inflation pressures are easing as the costs of oil and other commodities have declined.

The Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, dropped 0.3 percent in October, the Labor Department said.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the core index was unchanged for the first time in 11 months.


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