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WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales rose by the most in six months in May, a sign that confident consumers are leading a strong economic rebound after a slow start to the year.

Retail sales jumped 0.8 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Thursday, the largest increase since November. Excluding the volatile gas and auto categories, sales rose 0.8 percent. April's sales growth was revised higher, from 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent.

Americans are highly confident about the economy, buoyed by steady job gains, an unemployment rate at an 18-year low, and the Trump administration's tax cuts. The solid job gains have meant more Americans are earning paychecks, and spending them.

Healthier consumer spending has boosted the economy after a sluggish first quarter. Analysts forecast growth is likely to reach 4 percent in the April-June quarter, up from 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year.

"The consumer is on fire," Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. "The combination of lower taxes and a drum-tight labor market are producing very solid growth in disposable income."

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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