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Australia first-quarter retail sales worst in near seven years, rate cut bets alive

May 06, 2019 / Swati Pandey

Australian retailers posted their weakest quarter in seven years in March in a bad omen for the broader economy as the country's central bank deliberates on whether or not to cut interest rates later on Tuesday. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed retail sales rose a tepid 0.3 percent in March compared with an upwardly revised 0.9 percent in February and forecasts for a 0.2 percent gain in a Reuters poll. For the first quarter as a whole, sales fell 0.1 percent in inflation-adjusted terms for its first negative reading since September quarter of 2012 and followed an already sedate December quarter. The soft result implies retail sales did not contribute to growth in Australia's A$1.9 trillion economy in the March quarter. It also adds to growing evidence of a rocky outlook, given household spending accounts for around 57 percent of annual gross domestic product.