Retail sales rose strongly in September on autos

WASHINGTON (AP) ? U.S. consumers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture in September to boost retail sales by the most in seven months. The gain offered a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.

The Commerce Department says retail sales increased 1.1 percent last month.

Auto sales rose 3.6 percent to drive the overall gain. Excluding that category, sales increased a solid 0.6 percent.