More pay, greater confidence lifts US retail sales 0.6 pct.

FILE - In this June 6, 2015, file photo, a customer, bottom, pays for goods while shopping at the Atlanta Farmers Market in Atlanta. Some signs have suggested that wages are beginning to pick up after barely moving in the more than 6 years since the Great Recession officially ended. On Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, the government’s jobs report will offer some clues about whether the modest pay gains will continue. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans stepped up their auto buying and holiday shopping in December, reflecting a boost in confidence after the election and a solid increase in hourly pay.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent, following a small 0.2 percent gain in November.

Auto sales jumped 2.4 percent in December, the biggest gain since April. Gas station sales rose 2 percent, largely because of higher prices. Excluding autos and gas, retail sales overall were flat.

Still, online retailers in particular reported better sales. Consumer confidence has soared after the election, reaching the highest levels in nearly a decade. Small businesses are also more bullish. And Americans’ paychecks are getting fatter: Average hourly pay rose 2.9 percent in December from a year earlier, the most in seven years.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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