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Euro-Area Retail Sales Unexpectedly Increase, Led by France

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March 5 (Bloomberg) -- European retail sales unexpectedly rebounded from four months of declines in January, as growth in France helped to offset a drop in Germany.

Sales rose 0.3 percent from December, when they fell a revised 0.5 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists had forecast a drop of 0.1 percent, the median of 20 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed. Sales were unchanged from a year earlier.

European leaders are seeking way to bolster economic growth and job creation after the region’s sovereign debt crisis forced governments from Spain to Ireland to toughen budget cuts, eroding consumer confidence. The European Commission last month forecast the economy to shrink this year and unemployment in January surged to the highest in more than a decade.

In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, retail sales fell 1.6 percent from December, when they advanced 0.1 percent, today’s report showed. Sales in France grew 2.1 percent after a 1.4 percent decline.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simone Meier in Zurich at smeier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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