Washington — US retail sales rose more than expected in July as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, suggesting the economy remained strong early in the third quarter. The commerce department said on Wednesday that retail sales increased 0.5% in July. But June data was revised lower, to show sales gaining 0.2% instead of the previously reported 0.5% rise. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales nudging up 0.1% in July. Retail sales in July increased 6.4% from a year ago. Excluding cars, petrol, building materials and food services, retail sales advanced 0.5% last month after a downwardly revised 0.1% dip in June. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Core retail sales were previously reported to have been unchanged in June. Consumer spending is being supported by a tightening labour market, which is steadily pushing up wages. Tax cuts and higher savings are also...

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