US retail sales in December beat expectations
US retail sales rose in December by more than analysts had expected as Americans spent more on cars and home furnishings, figures show.
Sales totalled $415.7bn (£259bn) in the month, up 0.5% on the previous month, the Commerce Department said.
Compared with a year earlier, sales rose 4.7%.
With consumer spending accounting for about 70% of US economic activity, analysts said the figures were good news for the economy.
Sales of cars and car parts rose by 1.6% from November, while sales of furniture and personal care products were 1.4% higher.
"[The figures] suggest a resilient consumer in the face of the fiscal cliff debates," said Joe Manimbo at Western Union Business Solutions.
"It offers a favourable sign for fourth-quarter growth."
Policymakers spent much of December trying to agree a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, which would have seen tax rises and spending cuts kick in at the beginning of January.
They eventually agreed to postpone a deal pending negotiations on the size of the cuts and tax rises.
Analysts said that consumer spending could suffer when the measures are implemented.