U.S. retail sales rise, but Home Depot cuts forecast

STORY: U.S. retail sales increased moderately last month, defying expectations that a recession is near.

Data from the Commerce Department out Tuesday showed a rebound in spending of 0.4% - slightly less than expected but still solid, reflecting an ease of inflationary prices.

Receipts at auto dealers rose 0.4% in April after back-to-back monthly decreases.

Online retail sales surged 1.2% - and consumers also stepped up spending at health and personal care stores.

And restaurants and bars, the only services category, fared well, rising 0.6%. Economists view dining out as a key indicator of household finances.

Consumers cut back on hobbies, down 3.3%, as well as spending at furniture, electronics and appliance stores, which dropped roughly half a percent.

And while building material and garden suppliers got a moderate boost, Home Depot on Tuesday cast a pall over the sector.

The largest U.S. home improvement chain reported a first-quarter sales miss – blaming a rainy Spring and falling lumber prices.

More foreboding, however, was the cut Home Depot made to its annual sales forecast - and its projection of a steeper-than-expected decline in annual profit.

Many Americans who remodeled their homes during the health crisis have now cut back on discretionary spending with costs, while cooling, still high.

Shares of Home Depot were down in Tuesday trading, along with those of smaller rival Lowe’s.