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Singapore Retail Sales Rise on Luxury Goods, Computer Purchases

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July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s retail sales growth accelerated in May as rising wages encouraged consumer spending at department stores and spurred purchases of luxury goods, telephones and computers.

The retail sales index rose 10 percent from a year earlier after climbing a revised 8.5 percent in April, the Statistics Department said in a statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 10 economists was for an 8.8 percent gain.

Singapore’s unemployment rate is at a three-year low as employers expand payrolls to meet demand for goods and services, boosting wages and increasing consumer spending. Tourists are visiting the city in record numbers, bolstering earnings for companies such as Genting Singapore Plc and Las Vegas Sands Corp., whose casino complexes on the island include shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.

“Wages are rising strongly,” Edward Lee, regional head of rates strategy at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore, said before the report. “Tourist arrivals also remained strong in May.”

Average wages before adjusting for inflation rose 8.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the Ministry of Manpower said in June. The government will release second-quarter jobs data on July 29.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, overall retail sales dropped 0.4 percent in May from April, when they rose a revised 6 percent, today’s report showed.

Tourist Arrivals

Singapore expects as many as 13 million tourists to visit this year compared with 11.6 million in 2010, S. Iswaran, second minister for trade and industry, said this week. Tourism receipts are forecast to rise to S$22 billion ($18 billion) to S$23 billion this year from about S$18.9 billion in 2010, he said.

Last quarter, “tourism-related sectors such as hotels and restaurants continued to register healthy growth due to strong visitor inflows,” the trade ministry said yesterday.

The index measuring purchases excluding automobiles rose 8.3 percent from a year earlier after climbing a revised 10.5 percent in April.

Singapore controls pollution and congestion on its roads by selling limited permits for each automobile category, and the quotas may distort sales figures because motor vehicles are the biggest component of the retail index, accounting for about a quarter of the gauge.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at sadam2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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