U.S. retail sales rise 18%

A stunning retail rebound. Americans emerging from lockdown went shopping with a vengeance in May, driving retail sales up a staggering 17.7% as several million people went back to work and states began to reopen their economies.

That's a new single-month record, more than double the previous record increase back in 2001. And it's also more than twice what economists had been expecting.

Autos helped drive the snapback in sales as dealer showrooms reopened their doors. Americans also loaded up on building materials, gas, electronics, clothing and furniture.

Still, as big as May's gains were, it recoups only a fraction of the record back-to-back sales declines of the previous two months when Americans were ordered to stay at home. The U.S. economy sank into a recession in February. But a surprising increase in payrolls in May supports the view that the economy may be on the mend.

The robust retail data sent investors shopping for stocks, driving the Dow up nearly 850 points Monday morning.