US retail sales rebounded in November, reversing October's decline as auto sales surged, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
Retail sales rose 0.3 percent after a 0.3 percent drop the prior month.
Excluding automobile sales, up 1.4 percent after a 1.9 percent tumble in October, retail sales were unchanged from October.
The Commerce Department said that Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc on the Northeast in late October and early November, had both positive and negative effects on the two months' data.
The data, which is not adjusted for price changes, showed a mixed performance across sectors in November.
Sales gains for automobiles, furniture and home furnishings, building materials, electronics and other sectors were offset by a sharp drop in gasoline sales.
Year-over-year growth in retail sales was 3.7 percent, unchanged from October.
The retail sales data, which includes restaurant and bar sales, is a key indicator of consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of US economic activity.
The modest rise in the headline number masked the true direction of consumer demand, said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.
"Gasoline prices were down sharply over the month and if you exclude them, spending increased sharply," he said.