Retail growth puts pressure on rates
Retail growth puts pressure on rates

More positive signs have emerged about the Australian economy in a sign the Reserve Bank may have to change tack on interest rates.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that retail sales in January grew by a much-better than expected 1.2 per cent.

Sales through department stores jumped by 2.6 per cent, while there was a 1.1 per cent lift in sales of clothing and footwear.

Across every sector there was growth in January which aligns with anecdotal reports that retailers had a good start to the year.

However, WA defied the overall trend with sales across the State's retailers down by 0.3 per cent. That followed a flat December.

Elsewhere there were good signs with sales up by 2.1 per cent in the nation's biggest retail market, NSW.

Other bureau figures showed the trade part of the economy is going gangbusters.

The nation ran a $1.4 billion trade surplus in January, a 142 per cent lift over the near $600 million surplus in December.

Part of the increase was driven by a one-off 44 per cent lift in non-monetary gold exports.

But exports of non-rural goods and agricultural commodities all rose.

The figures follow yesterday's stronger December quarter GDP result.

This week the Reserve Bank signalled it would be on the interest rate sidelines after detecting tentative signs of an improvement in the economy.

Bank governor Glenn Stevens is due to give evidence to the House of Representatives economics committee tomorrow.

The West Australian

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