German Retail Sales Rise as Jobless Rate Near Record Low

German retail sales rose in November as unemployment close to a two-decade low encouraged spending.

Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, increased 1.2 percent from October, when they dropped 1.3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists forecast a 0.8 percent gain, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Sales fell 0.9 percent from a year earlier. The statistics office said overall in 2012 sales fell between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent against the previous year, after inflation was taken into account.

German unemployment increased less than economists predicted in December and the jobless rate held at 6.9 percent even as Europe’s debt crisis curbed investment and spending. Business confidence improved for a second month in December after factory orders and exports rose, signaling the country is unlikely to slide into recession.

“We are cautiously optimistic about German consumption growth this year due to above-inflation wage gains and lower savings,” said Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in London. Still, “we don’t expect a spending boom.”

Consumer confidence will fall for a second month in January as uncertainty about the economy increases, GfK SE said on Dec. 21. The Bundesbank predicted last month that the economy, Europe’s largest, probably contracted “markedly” in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, Christmas spending in November and December may have increased 1.5 percent from a year earlier, Germany’s HDE retail association said on Dec. 27.

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