Updated from 9:30 a.m. EDT

U.S. retail sales rose in August for the third straight month, as customers took advantage of auto-financing bargains. Consumer sentiment fell in early September, however.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.8% last month, beating expectations of a 0.5% rise, according to a Reuters poll. July sales were revised to a 1.1% increase from the previously estimated 1.2% gain.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales rose 0.4% after a 0.2% gain in July. Auto dealers have boosted sales this year with their 0% financing deals.

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Consumer sentiment, meanwhile, continued to slide. The University of Michigan's midmonth index on consumer sentiment fell to 86.2 from 87.6 at the end of August, according to market reports.

Consumers also are a bit more downcast about what lies ahead. The current-conditions index, which correlates more closely with consumption patterns, fell to 95.9 from 98.5, while the index for future expectations, which measures attitudes about the 12 months ahead, slipped to 80 from 80.6.

Separately, U.S. wholesale prices held steady in August.