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Australian retail sales in surprise fall in May

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by Kay Mitchell

Australia’s Bureau of Statistics today revealed retail sales showed a surprise fall in May sending the dollar and shares down after the announcement.

Sales suffered the largest fall in seven months, declining by 0.6% on a monthly basis, confounding analysts’ expectations of a 0.3% rise.

According to analysts, today’s figures will lead the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to leave interest rates on hold at 4.75%, when it meets tomorrow.

The economy, dubbed the “wonder from down under”, contracted by 1.2% in the January to March period – the largest quarterly contraction since 1991 – the last time Australia was in recession.

The contraction was attributed to flood and cyclone disasters which hit earlier this year, leading to a fall in coal and agricultural exports.

Meanwhile, returning to today’s figures, department store spending, food and clothing all suffered as consumers feel the pinch from rising energy and living costs.

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News posted: July 4, 2011

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