US retail sales rise boosted by car sales
US retail sales rose in July after two months of declines, largely due to an increase in car sales, figures show.
Total sales climbed 0.4% from the previous month, when sales dropped by a revised 0.3%, the Commerce Department said.
Without the impact of car sales, overall retail sales rose by 0.2%.
US retail sales are seen as a key indicator of the health of the US economy as consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US economic activity.
Sales in July totalled $362.7bn (£232.4bn), and were 5.9% higher than the same month a year earlier.
Car and car parts sales rose by 1.6% from June, while petrol sales grew by 2.3%.
But sales in a number of other key areas, including clothing, electronics and furniture, all fell.
Recent weeks have seen growing concerns about the strength of the US recovery, and although the latest sales figures showed a rise, the increase was not as big as had been expected.
Last week, figures showed that the US economy shed 131,000 jobs in July, the second month in a row that jobs have been lost.
Earlier this month, figures showed that US economic growth had slowed between April and June.
This contrasts sharply with figures published on Friday showing the eurozone economic recovery gathering pace.
The German economy in particular is forging ahead, with its economy growing by 2.2% in the second quarter. The equivalent figure for the US was 0.6%.