WASHINGTON - U.S. retail sales rose at a modest pace in October, evidence that recent job gains and lower gas prices are lifting consumer spending.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month after falling by the same amount in September. Excluding gas stations, where falling prices lowered spending, sales rose 0.5 percent.
Employers have stepped up hiring, giving more Americans paychecks to spend and boosting consumer confidence. That could spur more growth because consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of economic activity.
Auto sales rose a solid 0.5 percent, after falling sharply in September. Americans also spent more at restaurants and at sporting goods and health care stores.
Sales at electronics stores plunged after a big gain the previous month, when the newest iPhone went on sale.