Australian Retail Sales Rise Strongly in November

By James GlynnFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Australian retail sales rose by 1.2% in November from October, coinciding with a surge in full-time job creation.

Economists had expected a 0.4% rise in retail sales ahead of the data's release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.

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Increased sales activity was seen in household goods and clothing, partly offset by weakness in department store sales.

The data will help ease concerns about consumers who are facing record household debts and virtually flat wages growth.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has kept interest rates at record lows for well over a year, saying recently there is "significant risk" attached to consumer spending, which has been weighing on economic growth.

The pain for consumers has been visible in falling household savings, which have dropped to their lowest levels in a decade, as consumers try to offset flat income growth.

The situation has markets betting the RBA could keep interest rates unchanged for a while yet, potentially into 2019.

Still, 2017 was a year of strong employment growth, with the bulk of the job gains in full-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4% currently from 5.9% in March.

Data on Monday showed consumer confidence lifted late in December.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence started 2018 on a bright note with the headline index climbing 4.7% from mid-December to 122, the highest since November 2013.

ANZ said the data should be viewed with some caution with the improved sentiment of consumer potentially reflecting the holiday season and Australia's win over England in cricket.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2018 19:48 ET (00:48 GMT)