The slowdown in purchases followed a 0.2% advance in June, the Commerce Department reported today. The median forecast of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.2% gain. Excluding cars, sales rose 0.1%.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment increased to 84.1 from a four-month low of 80 in March. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 83 after a preliminary April reading of 82.6.
More favorable views of current conditions and the outlook show consumers are taking higher prices at grocery stores and gas stations in stride, indicating gains in household purchases will be sustained.
Stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record, and Treasuries gained as Federal Reserve officials said weakness in the U.S. economy warrants continued stimulus. Oil led commodities up from a four-month low while the yen and dollar weakened.