US retail sales slowed in June to a halt except for continued growth in automobile sales, government data released Monday showed. Retail and food services sales rose 0.4 percent from May, compared with a downwardly revised 0.5 percent rise the prior month, the Commerce Department said. Analysts had expected a gain of 0.7 percent. The rebounding auto industry was the strongest sign of life in retail sales, a key component of consumer spending that drives the bulk of the US economy. Auto sales rose 1.8 percent from May, including a 2.1 percent increase in sales at dealerships. Excluding motor vehicle and parts sales, retail sales were flat. Furniture and home furnishing sellers had the biggest gain, with sales up 2.4 percent from May, followed by \"nonstore\" online retail sales, up 2.2 percent. Miscellaneous retailers suffered the largest drop in sales, 2.5 percent. Sales at building material and garden supplies stores fell 2.2 percent. Despite the lackluster June reading, compared with a year ago retail sales continued to show strength. Retail sales were up 5.7 percent from June 2012. In the April-June quarter, sales were 4.6 percent higher from a year ago. Auto sales were up 12.9 percent from last year, while online retailers saw a 13.8 percent rise in sales.