U.S. retail sales rose in May at the fastest rate in three months, led by higher demand for automobiles, building materials and groceries, the U.S. Commerce Department said today, MarketWatch reported.


The details of the retail report were somewhat mixed, however, suggesting lingering softness in the American economy, MarketWatch said.


Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent last month, according to the Commerce Department report. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.5 percent increase.


The surge in May was largely driven by a rebound in auto sales, which generate about one-fifth of all retail spending. Auto companies sold some 1.4 million vehicles in May following a disappointing April.


Excluding autos, retail sales rose a smaller 0.3 percent. Read more.