Retail sales rose less than expected in January largely because of discounting in the auto sector.
The Commerce Department reported Tuesday a rise of 0.3 percent in retail sales, below economists' expectations of a 0.7 percent increase.
But sales excluding autos, gasoline and building materials rebounded 0.7 percent after falling 0.4 percent the prior month. The growth was more than projected and the biggest gain since March.
"I don't think there's anything here that really brings into question the fact that the economy has been improving," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.
Another report on Tuesday showed confidence among small U.S. business owners hit a four year-high in January, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.