(Stock prices added.)



) -- Retail sales weren't dependent on autos and gasoline in August, as most sectors started showing growth.

The Commerce Department reported that sales jumped 2.7% in August, better than the 2.3% increase analysts expected.

Auto sales surged 10.6%, boosted by the government's cash-for-clunkers program, while gas stations rose 5.1% on higher prices at the pump.

Excluding autos, retail sales rose 1.1% in August; without including autos or gas, retail sales still inched up 0.6%, the biggest increase since February. Seeing gains were: electronic and appliance stores, clothing and accessories, general merchandise stores (which include department stores and discounters), and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.

Granted, sales were still lower compared with last year, down 5.3% -- but, hey, let's take it one step at a time.

The retail sector remained steady after the report, with the S&P Retail Index down 0.4% to 372.43.

Some notable movers were


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, which jumped 3% to $17.31,



, which grew 3% to $6.80 and

Best Buy

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, which slipped 2% to $39.58.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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