US retail sales rise in September
US retail sales rose in September as Americans bought more of everything from cars to gasoline and electronics, pointing to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter.
Other data on Monday showed manufacturing activity in New York state shrank for the third month in a row in October, though the pace of contraction eased.
Retail sales increased 1.1 percent last month, the Commerce Department said, beating expectations after an upwardly revised 1.2 percent rise in August.
Retail sales outside of autos, gasoline and building materials -- a barometer of consumer spending known as core retail sales -- rose 0.9 percent last month.
That was well above the 0.3 percent gain expected by analysts in a Reuters poll, and suggests consumers did more to drive economic growth in the July-September period than economists had expected.
Consumer spending drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and the data points to an economy that is growing modestly but still below its potential.
"This is a good end of third quarter and we have some good momentum to the fourth quarter," said Craig Dismuke, an economic strategist at Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee.
While the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September -- a potential boost for President Barack Obama's chances of reelection on Nov. 6 -- other measures of labor market health have improved more slowly.