Hong Kong Sept. Retail Sales Jump 24%, Limiting Recession Risk

Hong Kong’s retail sales growth exceeded 20 percent for a seventh month, helping to support an economy that contracted in the second quarter.

Sales jumped 24.1 percent in September from a year earlier to HK$31.2 billion ($4 billion), the government said on its website yesterday. That compares with a 29 percent increase in August and the median 28.5 percent forecast of 10 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Asian stocks fell yesterday as a weaker-than-forecast manufacturing report for China added to evidence that economies in the region are slowing as Europe’s debt crisis curbs exports. Hong Kong’s economy may avoid another contraction as tourists from China and limited unemployment help to sustain domestic consumption.

“It’s no wonder consumer spending growth has yet to feel the chill,” Donna Kwok, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc. in Hong Kong, said before yesterday’s report, citing visitor arrivals and employment figures. “This should help Hong Kong narrowly skirt recession in the third quarter.”

The city’s unemployment rate stayed at 3.2 percent, the lowest level in 13 years, for the three months ended September. About 2.1 million visitors from mainland China arrived in September, an increase of 29 percent from a year earlier, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Morgan Stanley and Daiwa Capital Markets Co. say Hong Kong may have tipped into recession in the third quarter, after the economy shrank 0.5 percent in the April-to-June period from the previous quarter.

By volume, retail sales rose 15.2 percent in September from a year earlier, the government’s statement said.

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