US retail sales rose a better than expected 0.6% in June from the previous month, according to US Commerce Department data.

Most analysts had expected a monthly increase of 0.4%.

The Commerce Department left unchanged May's 0.5% increase in retail sales from April.

The monthly retail sales data signal the direction of consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of US output.

Excluding petrol and motor vehicle and parts sales, retail sales fell for the fourth consecutive month, by 0.2%, slightly stronger than the 0.1% decline in May.

Petrol sales led the rise in overall retail sales, surging 5.0% from May as prices at the pump increase. Automobile and parts sales rose 2.3% in June, after a 0.5% gain in May.

On an annual basis, retail sales were 9.0% below the June 2008 level.

Amid a severe recession, retail sales have increased in only four of the past 12 months as wary consumers snap their wallets shut in the face of rising unemployment and falling home values.