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A surge in auto purchases helped lift retail sales in October by the largest amount in seven months. But excluding autos, retail sales rose more modestly.
October marked the fourth straight increase in retail sales after declines in May and June. Those drops had raised fears about the economic recovery. Still, economists say consumers probably aren't spending enough to lift sales growth above the lackluster pace of the past six months.
Consumers are still struggling with scant income gains, high debts and painfully high unemployment, which remains stuck at 9.6 percent even though the recession ended more than a year ago.
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