U.S. May retail sales rose more than expected

Washington, D.C. -- A report released Thursday by the Commerce Dept. said that retail sales in the U.S. gained 0.6% in May, more than forecast and likely boosted by increased hiring during the month.

The increase was the largest in three months and followed a 0.1% advance in April. Bloomberg economists called for a 0.4% increase. The figures used to calculate economic growth, which exclude categories such as automobiles, climbed 0.3%.

“The consumer seems to be faring very well,” Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist in New York at Societe Generale, told Bloomberg. “The labor market is getting better. People realize that the employment situation has improved so they feel better and are probably willing to go out and spend money.”

Purchases are projected to climb at an average 2.4% annualized rate in the second half of the year, according to Bloomberg.