ATLANTA — The Home Depot topped expectations with Q1 results boosted by a strong U.S. housing market and the beginning of the gardening season. The retailer reported sales of $23.9 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2017, a 4.9% increase over the 2016 quarter. Comparable-store sales were positive 5.5%, with comp sales for U.S. stores up 6%. Net earnings climbed to $2 billion, up 11% over $1.8 billion in 2016. For the first quarter of fiscal 2017, diluted earnings per share increased 16% from the same period in the prior year. Last week, the U.S. federal government released economic data showing that American customers are investing in their homes again, with sales rising at hardware stores even as they slow down in clothing and other sectors.