Australian Retail Sales Rise in May

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australian retail sales rose for a second straight month, led by strong spending on household goods.

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Sales rose 0.6% in May from a month earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday, compared with a 0.2% rise expected by economists.

That followed a 1.0% rise in sales in April.

Sales were strong across every category except department store sales, which fell 0.7% in May, retracing some of the 2.6% rise recorded in the previous month.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has been keeping a close watch on consumers as soaring household debt, record low wages growth and softness in the job market have been headwinds to spending, and a threat to economic growth. The RBA has held interest rates at a record low 1.5% for almost a year.

Still, recent data has been more upbeat. A private-sector survey earlier Tuesday showed consumer confidence has climbed back to its highest levels since April.

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-Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 03, 2017 21:55 ET (01:55 GMT)