Australia's retail sales take surprise dip in November
SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Retail sales in Australia were surprisingly soft in November, as spending fell on clothes and household goods, a sign lower interest rates had yet to breathe life into the long-struggling bricks and mortar shopping sector.
Wednesday's data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail sales dipped 0.1 per cent in November to A$21.53 billion (S$27.7 billion), confounding forecasts of a 0.3 per cent increase. Annual growth in sales slowed to just 2.9 per cent, half the pace that used to be considered "normal".
The subdued result added modestly to the case for further cuts in interest rates.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) eased in both October and December, taking rates to a record-matching low of 3 per cent. Yet, demand for credit has remained anaemic while the housing market is sluggish at best, leading some analysts to argue that further stimulus is needed.