U.S. retail sales surged the most on record last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, as millions of Americans returned to work following weeks of coronavirus-triggered lockdowns that shuttered the world's largest economy.
Retail sales rose 17.7% in May, the Commerce Department said, well ahead of the 8% forecast and well ahead of the downwardly-revised April reading of -14.7%. The so-called retail control reading, which strips out volatile auto, gas, building material and food services sales, was marked 11% higher in May, more than double the Street consensus forecast.
The gains mimic those seen in last month's payroll report, which showed a record 2.5 million Americans returned to work last month as businesses and factories around the country began the slow process of re-starting activity following weeks of coronavirus shutdowns.
U.S. equity futures surged higher after the release, alongside a report that suggested that U.K. scientists have found a 'major breakthrough' in treating coronavirus patients with the steroid dexamethasone.
Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average priced for a 1,000 point opening bell gain, while those linked to the S&P 500, which clawed back its month-to-date losses with a late-hour rally yesterday, indicate an 98 point advance for the benchmark. Contracts linked to the Nasdaq suggest 227 point gain for the tech-focused index.
Auto and car part sales lead the headline gain, the report said, rising 44.1% compared to the April decline of 12.3%. Gasoline sales also impressed, rising 12.8% even as pump prices neared $2 a gallon in the wake of OPEC production cuts and rising global crude prices.