The government reported Tuesday that retail sales slipped 0.2 percent last month, the first decline in nearly a year, as Americans bought fewer cars. The report still beat analysts' expectations. Excluding car sales, retail sales rose 0.3 percent. The Labor Department also added some upbeat news, saying that food costs were falling.
Stocks and oil rallied after the reports came out. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained $1.47 at $98.78 per barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude added $1.26 at $119.68 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard and Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq were all more than 1 percent higher, the best gain for stocks in two weeks.
Oil rose against a weaker dollar. Oil is priced in U.S. currency and tends to rise as the greenback falls and makes crude cheaper for investors holding foreign currency.
Gasoline pump prices dropped to $3.696 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. The national average is 26.5 cents cheaper per gallon than it was a month ago, but it's still almost a dollar more than a year ago. Analysts expect the national average to fall as low as $3.50 per gallon this month.
In other Nymex trading for July contracts, heating oil added 3.71 cents to $3.1429 per gallon, while gasoline futures gained 6.28 cents at $3.0596 per gallon. Natural gas lost 2 cents at $4.622 per 1,000 cubic feet.